Here I am, face in my hands, trying to recall my memory of what I cooked first. No, that episode with the egg cracking out of the bowl doesn’t count. And all the rotis I flipped for Ammi on the tawa wasn’t really as though I cooked something. Especially since I didn’t do any of the stuff that came before it.
Then it has to be gajar ka halwa. Even before baking ignited my culinary passion, there was this delightful, wholly Indian dessert that had me crowding my mother near the stove as she stirred the halwa just so I could understand where the magic was.
Yes, this the same gajar ka halwa that is rhapsodized by every Hindi film mother who croons about how her daughter in law should know how to make it because it’s her son’s favourite dish, after kheer of course. This filmi gajar ka halwa had me enthralled. But it was only in later years I realised that Ammi’s version was very different from the gajar ka halwas that these filmi mothers probably fed their sons.
If you’ve ever attempted making gajar ka halwa, you have probably boiled grated carrots in milk and then reduced it, added sugar, khova and nuts. According to this recipe, the grated carrots are first sautéed in ghee. Yes, this is a much more calorific sweet, but if you’re already reading this blog, then I surmise that a few calories, I mean, a few hundred calories, here and there probably don’t count.
The one thing that I don’t like about gajar ka halwa is that there’s always a mound of carrots to be grated and I have grated many a finger in the process. In the beginning, I didn’t find any aversion to grating carrots or fingers, and it was all an adventure right from the time Ammi scraped the carrots and handed them over to me. But over the years, the adventure dimmed and I was left with only the painful grated fingers, which still didn’t deter me from making gajar ka halwa whenever I wanted to. Why I’m saying this is because there’s an easier and much painless method of making the halwa but it is not this halwa. That one is texturally different but tastes really good. (I’ll be posting that later on!)
When I make gajar ka halwa, I like to make enough so that we can eat it as a dessert, but also something which I can eat with rotis and bread. Yes. Please don’t feel shocked. My sweet tooth is something of a monster and I do tend to get fat easily.
Gajar Ka Halwa
Grated carrots – ½ Kg
Sugar – 750 gms
Khoya – 1 cup (200 gms)
Milk – 1 cup
Ghee – A few tablespoons
Cardamom and Cinnamon – 2 each
- Heat ghee in a thick bottomed vessel.
- Add cardamom and cinnamon in the melted ghee.
- Add grated carrots and stir well.
- Cook on medium heat until carrots become translucent.
- Continue stirring for some more time.
- Add milk slowly and keep stirring till carrots have absorbed all the milk.
- Crumble the khoya and add it. Continue stirring.
- When carrots looked fully cooked, add sugar.
- Stir properly, because at this stage the sugar starts sputtering angrily and you can get some nasty burns if you’re not careful.
- Lower the heat and continue stirring, mixing everything together. If you stop stirring for even half a minute, it will start getting stuck at the bottom of the pan.
- After sometime the halwa will glisten. Take the halwa off from the heat.
- Sprinkle chopped nuts.
For added rich taste and if you’re not really bothered about calories (calories-shmalories, heh!) you can fry the nuts in ghee and sprinkle them over the halwa.