I'm sure every Bollywood movie fan would know this dish!!!! For those, not aware, "Gajar ka Halwa" was a popular dish made by all Bollywood mothers for their sons and apparently, all the Heroes' favourite dish was the same :)))) "Maa ke haath ka Gajar halwa" ( the carrot pudding made by mother ) or "Beta, maine gajar ka halwa banaya hai.. tujhe pasand hai na?" ( Son, i have made your favourite dish of carrot pudding ) were some of the very common dialogues in Bollywood Films in 70's or 80's.
Gradually , with time, "Maa" became "Mom" and there is no more "Gajar ka halwa" that i remember seeing in any film recently. Nevertheless, Gajar ka halwa is a dessert relished by us all at any given point of time !
Gajar Halwa basically got introduced during the Mughal period and is associated with state of Punjab in India and Pakistan and is also known as "Punjabi Gajrela" or "Gajar ka Gajrela" in the northern parts of India. In earlier days, it was made by using carrots, pumpkins, potatoes, zucchini and snake squash. This halwa is especially cooked and served hot in winter days, as carrots are cheaper during that time and of good quality too. Cooked on festivals like Diwali, Holi or any special occassion, this dish tastes good even when served chilled. It usually lasts for a long period when kept in refrigerator or at room temperature in winters.
Recently a friend asked me to post recipe of homemade Gajar Halwa with some twist. Normally, this halwa is made with milk, sugar, carrots, nuts and dry fruits. I really scratched my brains, to make this recipe into something exciting and new. Did some R n D, cooked with a few changes here and there and here is the result :
I love replacing sugar with jaggery. Not many would like the taste and would prefer the traditional taste of adding sugar to the halwa but trying this in small quantity is no harm. Also, i used rich whole milk instead of skimmed milk. I used the traditional khoya, but you can also use condensed milk. The twist was : a few saffron strands dipped in rose water!!!! Not only does it add taste to the recipe, but also the aroma is breathtaking :)) And yes, don't think of calories while making or eating this recipe. Use Ghee as much is needed. There is no "short-cut" or " fat-cutting" there ! The halwa tastes yummy only when the carrots are saute'd well in ghee.
Another twist was to add " Rabdi ice cream" on top!!! It just couldn't get better. We get ready made Rabdi ice cream here. You can make Rabdi at home or buy ready made and top it on halwa. Or you can even freeze the Rabdi in kulfi or ice cream moulds and use it for topping.
Carrots : 2 cups (Wash, peel and grate them )
Jaggery - 3/4 cup ( if using powdered sugar, use the same amount or according to taste)
Desi ghee - 4-5 tsp
Full cream milk - 3 cups
Khoya - 3/4 cup ( Use 1/2 cup or even less if using condensed milk or 3 tbsp of powdered milk. Some even add paneer instead of khoya for a different taste)
Saffron strands - a few
Rose water - just to dip the saffron strands in
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Raisins - a few ( You can even add cashews or any other mixed nuts of your choice. You can even add dates)
Always use a wide flat pan or kadhai to make carrot halwa as it promises even cooking.
You can also make this in a pressure cooker vessel.
Dip the saffron strands in rose water and keep aside.
Heat ghee in a pan and add grated carrots and saute for 8-10 mins. Keep stirring it in between. This prevents burning of the carrots.
Add the milk, raisins and cardamom powder and cook till all the milk is absorbed by the carrots and the mixture turns into thick consistency. This is when the carrots are cooked. It will take about 20-25 minutes. Cook on low flame and let it take its own time.
Add the jaggery or powdered sugar and cook for another 5 mins.
Remove from heat.
Lastly, add the khoya and saffron with rose water and mix well.
If the mixture is watery, cook for another 5-10 minutes till it becomes dry.
Serve with a scoop of Rabdi ice cream or Rabdi.
Happy Cooking :)