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Gajar ka Halwa

Spring carrots have hit our farmers’ markets and while we love the usual carrot desserts we see pop up around this time, namely in cake form, try something new with Gajar Halwa. Halwa is an Indian dessert that highlights one ingredient - semolina or squash and in this case gajar - carrots.

There’s something about combining the sweet carrots with spices and creamy mawa that can’t be beat.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Ghee or unsalted butter
3-4 cups grated Carrots
1 1/2 cups grated Mawa or ~ 1 cup milk powder*|
1 pinch Saffron
1 cup Milk
1 1/2 cups Sugar - Adjust based on the sweetness of your carrots
1/3 cup raw Cashews
1 tsp ground Cardamom
1/4 cup sliced Almonds

*Mawa are compressed milk solids. You can find them in the freezer aisles of many international grocery stores. You can make your own with a shortcut method by combining milk powder with whole milk. Since we are adding milk to the recipe already, we are simply substituting mawa with slightly less milk powder. If you really need a project, you can always make your make your own mawa the traditional way, by stirring and simmering whole milk until the liquid evaporates and you are left with the milk solids. I have done that once, it tooks hours, and sadly resulted in the best Indian desserts I have ever made.

Gajar Halwa is usually pressed into small metal trays to cool. You can use a small casserole or bread loaf plan. Make sure to either line with parchment or butter before pressing the mixture.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the ghee and add the carrots. Cook them until they are soft, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine milk, sugar and saffron. Slightly warm the milk either in the microwave or over low heat on the stove, stirring until the sugar dissolves. 

When the carrots are cooked, stir in the milk mixture and the mawa or milk powder. Continue stirring until the milk mostly evaporates and the mixture becomes more solid. Then add the cardamom and cashews, stirring to evenly distribute.

Remove the mixture from the heat. Press into your prepared tray and sprinkle almonds on top and let cool. The mixture will become more solid and you will be able to cut the halwa into squares.

 I always enjoyed eating the warm halwa with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

 

 

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