Nothing screams meetha like this delicious gajar ki barfi does!

Published: January 27, 2018

The gajar (carrot) barfi is the lovechild of a barfi and gajar ka halwa (gajrela). PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

This year, I wanted to start things off with something sweet. Maybe I wanted to hint at my guardian angels to make the next 12 months as sweet for me as the desi dish I was about to make.

Desi desserts are always full of flavours, with each bite one floats off to a sweet paradise. Plump with refined butter and glistening with syrup, these delicacies are not for the faint-hearted. It is hard for me to walk past a shop where slabs of Sohan halwa topped with almonds, or newly fried bright orange jalebis sit enticingly in the window, and not find myself at the counter – I must add here that even though I am not a huge fan of desi sweets, but at times, they are just irresistible! These sugary delights have an emotional pull; in our culture, they are associated with happy occasions and are distributed among people to spread the joy. Celebrating a new baby, a promotion at work, or straight As in your GCEs is incomplete without a plate of mithai (sweets).

Barfi is a mithai that I believe is every desi sweet lovers’ better half. The bite-sized desi confectionery is a milk-based dish that can be given flavour and texture using a myriad of ingredients like coconut, khoya (dried whole milk), cashew nuts, and so on.

The gajar (carrot) barfi is the lovechild of a barfi and gajar ka halwa (gajrela). This tantalising delicacy is essentially the same thing as gajrela, but with added milk powder so that the halwa is firmer and solidifies into shapes once it cools down. A mouthwatering dessert especially for the winters across the subcontinent!

So while we have been habituated to satisfying our sweet tooth after a meal (the post-dinner walk is often an excuse to stop by at the local ice cream vendor), sometimes it’s okay to have the dessert before your meal. Do try out these tiny delights and set the mood going for what will hopefully be an amazing year for all of us!


Carrots – ½ kg (peeled and grated)

Milk powder (full fat) – 1 ½ cups

Sugar – 1 cup

Ghee – 4 tbsp

Milk – 1 ½ cups

Desiccated coconut – 4 tbsp

Green cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Pistachios – 15 (sliced)


1. Heat milk, add the carrots and cook till the milk dries on medium flame.

2. Then add the ghee and cook on medium flame.

3. Add the sugar and green cardamom and cook till the water of the sugar dries on medium flame.

4. Add the milk powder and cook for a couple of minutes on low to medium flame all the while stirring.

5. Add the coconut and mix well.

6. Transfer the mixture in the greased tin spread evenly.

7. Garnish with pistachio and coconut, let it cool.

Cut in pieces and serve!


All photos: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a food website at . She tweets @arhama_siddiqa (

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

  • Patwari

    Picture perfect, user friendly, easy to make, what more can you ask for.
    Gajar ki barfi and gajar ka halva are quintessential winter favorites. Add
    some spiced tea, with cloves, cardamon,…there…nirvana.
    Last time, when yours truly was in the Kingdom of Elizabeth Regina 11, had
    a chance to try ‘Eton mess’. It was! Then also had Jam roly-poly,
    at a very famous department store. Then there was Chelsea sticky buns…
    Strawberries are plentiful, readily available in Pakland, [maybe out of season]
    So, if you need to bribe your guardian angels, try some good old fashion British
    deserts. You will have them wrapped around your little finger.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    no no strawberries are very much in season !
    ok I just googled Eton mess and it looks HEAVENLY!
    Jam roly-poly looks tea time perfect! and Chelsea sticky buns remind me of good old monkey bread , is that so?
    ok I now officially have a sugar craving , what have you done !Recommend

  • Parvez

    Always thought barfi was white and covered with nuts ….. but apparently there is so much I don’t know and I am one person who has a serious sweet tooth. Also Gajrela is a favorite with me….. great stuff during winters.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Chelsea buns are, perhaps, more like Danish kringle.
    Heard they can be made with khajoors too.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    gajrela is yes another winter favourite- can be had both warm and cold. ideal comfort food!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    you have given me so many names to google in this post alone and have increased the list of things I want to make this year! so thank you, and yes I googled Danish kringles and you are rightRecommend

  • Parvez

    As you normally write a preamble before the main recipe that for me is more interesting than the actual recipe, I wondered why you left that out this time. I started thinking about the humble carrot and of its origins and landed up finding out that it came from Afghanistan …. small fun fact.Recommend

  • Rukhsana

    Good recipe. Enough for 4/5 people.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    aye you are right I skipped out on it this time – off my game sadly but thank you for pointing this out, I’ll keep it in mind for sure!
    and I did not know that they came from the neighbour !Recommend

  • Parvez

    I detect a sense of ‘ blogging fatigue ‘ ….. give you a suggestion as we are talking meetha……try your hand at ‘ doodh dulari ‘ . I pick it up from an old mithai shop in Karachi and its fabulous.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    ohh I had it once ages ago and its yes amazing !
    not blogging fatigue , more like saturation point or lack of putting the heart and mind at once or something… but that is no excuse ! please await a future blog =pRecommend

  • Patwari

    You have a large repertoire. Pretty sure you even have
    a recipe computer file, Rolodex, or a filing system, of some
    A beef dish [boti], somewhere along, down the road, with or
    without one/two vegetables would do good. Take your time.
    No hurry.
    This ET has a large readership from a ” neighboring” country.
    There are 1.6 billions of them in there. Who are mostly vegetarians.
    So vegetarian dishes might be in order. No run of mill stuff. Exotic,
    vegetarian dishes would be more like it.
    [just 2 cents worth of advice, don’t take it too seriously]
    So far you are doing great.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Wait I will ….. connect your food recipes with art, music, politics, history, architecture and if you are an adventurist philosophy ……. that would make it exciting.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    thats actually a great Idea and even movies actually , will give me a chance to actually start watching them , I have recently discovered there are many good movies out there surprisingly once you put aside the romance hoo haRecommend

  • Hamsid

    hahah I wish I had a large stock of recipes but I am aiming to have one one day ! ,
    and haha thank you I shall definitely make these dishes EVERYTHING IS SERIOUS WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD !
    for me at least =pRecommend

  • Parvez

    That would be interesting…… good luck to you.Recommend