Sunday, 23 February 2014

Gajjar Ka Halwa - Pakistani Carrot Halwa

While growing up in Pakistan, Gajjar ka Halwa was a winter staple in our home. Carrots in Pakistan were a seasonal item so ammi regularly made it during winter season as the new carrot crop hit the market. These days the carrots are available year around but ammi still makes carrot halwa only in 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. Not very friendly to cook or eat in summers when the mercury hits 40 degrees all across Pakistan. Winters however are short but intense. The short chilly days bring a craving for sugary tea and for buttery, sweet slow cooked halwa. Many times Abu’s friends came over to our place for afternoon tea only to have this halwa. The call to confirm a visit will have a rather specific query regarding gajjar ka halwa’s availability.  Such was the popularity of ammi’s gajjar ka halwa.

Ammi never used butter or ghee to make this halwa. The cream skimmed from the daily supply of fresh milk was collected for days. Once the desired stock of cream was available, it found itself in a  gigantic daigcha ( Cooking Pan) slowly simmering away with naturally sweet red grated carrots and sugar for hours till the cream turned in to ghee while cooking the carrots to perfection during the process. I am sharing the recipe which has some modifications due to unavailability of fresh cream.  I recently made gajjar ka halwa for a friend’s parents; the delightful feedback exceeded my expectations.    

Carrots – 2 kgs (grated)
Butter -250 grams
Full Cream Milk – 1 Liter
Full Cream – 250 ml
Sugar – 1 ¼ cup
Green Cardamoms – 5-6 whole (crush them gentle to open the pods)
Garnish : Slivered Almonds – handful  &  Edible Silver Foil – 3-4 for garnish.

Utensil – Non Stick Cooking pan (size atleast 6-8 liter). The procedure to make halwa is pretty simple but a bit time consuming.
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large nonstick cooking pan and let it cook on the highest heat.
  2. Let the mixture boil and allow the liquid ingredients to dry. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon.
  3. As the mixture starts drying up, the boiling bubbles will jump out of the cooking pan. Protect your hands. You will need to clean your stove later.
  4. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon till all liquid dries up and the butter comes out on the sides. Be careful not to let it burn at the bottom. Your wooden spoon will be able to stand straight once you stick it in to the carrots. (see photos)
  5. Once the halwa cools down transfer it to a serving bowl and garnish with slivered almonds and silver foil.
  6. The cooking takes about 2 hours depending on how efficient your stove is.