Winter delights and the heavenly gajar ka halwa

Published: October 21, 2014
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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. PHOTO: AMBREEN MALIK

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.

Ingredients:

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)

Garnish:

Slivered almonds – Handful

Edible silver foil – 3 to 4

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients in the cooking pan and let it cook on the highest flame.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Photo: Ambreen Malik

2. Let the mixture come to a boil and allow the liquid ingredients to dry up.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

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.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Photo: Ambreen Malik

4. Once the halwa cools down, transfer it into a serving bowl and garnish with slivered almonds and silver foil.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Photo: Ambreen Malik

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.

Ambreen Malik

Ambreen Malik

The author is a Microfinance Banker, food blogger, LSE Alum and a dragon in training. She tweets as @ambreen_malik (twitter.com/ambreen_malik)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    so yum :DRecommend

  • https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8559594100366660134#allposts Supriya Arcot

    Slurpy .The only chore for me is grating that ton of carrots . How I hate that act.Recommend

  • Muhammad Shaheryar Asif

    Devourable indeed….!Recommend

  • Gautam Bhattacharya

    If you have home-made guava jam, cut it into slices or blobs, as per its texture and lay it on individual servings of warm gajar halwa, which should not be very sweet, in this case. Heat some light cream [not the US UHT style] and pour around the side of the small bowl [warmed] in which you are serving individual portions, unsweetened of course. The cream should be somewhat below scalding point. Try this sometime. Eat only very lightly before. Let us know how you liked the flavor combination. Some dry-roasted nuts like pishta, sliced and scattered over the servings, add some crunch and a slight bitterness to offset the richness.Recommend

  • Arooj Ahmed

    Gajar ka halwa is much devoured dessert in Winters here. No doubt!Recommend