Winter delights and the heavenly gajar ka halwa
While growing up in Pakistan, gajar ka halwa was a winter staple in our home. Back then, carrots in Pakistan were a seasonal vegetable so Ammi made it regularly during winters as the new carrot crop would hit the market. These days, however, carrots are available all year round. But sticking to tradition, Ammi still makes gajar ka halwa only in the winters.
This halwa is calorie-laden and heavy in nature as it is laboriously cooked for hours in full cream milk, ghee or butter and plenty of sugar. It is advised not to have it during summers when the mercury hits 40 degrees all across Pakistan as the heaviness of dessert might make one feel sick. But since winters are short and intense, they bring with them a craving for sugary tea and for buttery, sweet, slow cooked halwa. Quite often, Abu’s friends would come over to our place for afternoon tea only to have Ammi’s special halwa. The call to confirm a visit usually had a rather specific query regarding the halwa’s availability. Clearly, Ammi’s gajar ka halwa was quite famous and devoured.
Ammi never used butter or ghee to make this halwa. The cream skimmed from the daily supply of fresh milk was collected for days, and once the desired stock of cream was available, it found itself slowly simmering away in a gigantic daigcha (cooking pan) with naturally sweet, grated carrots and sugar for hours until the cream turned into ghee while cooking the carrots to perfection during the process.
So today, I am sharing this recipe which has been slightly modified due to the unavailability of fresh cream. I recently made this halwa for a friend’s parents, and the delightful feedback exceeded my expectations.
The procedure to make this halwa is pretty simple but is a bit time consuming. The cooking time is usually two hours, but the duration can vary depending on how efficient your stove is. Use a non-stick cooking pan which is at least six to eight litres deep in size.
Carrots – 2 kilograms (grated)
Butter – 250 grams
Full cream milk – 1 litre
Full cream – 250 ml
Sugar – 1¼ cup
Green cardamom – 5 to 6 whole (gently crushes to open the pods)
Slivered almonds – Handful
Edible silver foil – 3 to 4
1. Mix all the ingredients in the cooking pan and let it cook on the highest flame.
2. Let the mixture come to a boil and allow the liquid ingredients to dry up.
3. Keep stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon until all the liquid dries up and the butter comes out on the sides. Be careful not to let it burn at the bottom. Your wooden spoon should be able to stand straight once you stick it in the mixture.
4. Once the halwa cools down, transfer it into a serving bowl and garnish with slivered almonds and silver foil.
This little treat is the perfect end to a lovely dinner. Sit around a little fire-place, serve it hot with a dollop of cream on the side and let your taste-buds soar in its deliciousness.
This post originally appeared here.
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