Winter is the best season to enjoy a (small) bowlful of gajar ka halwa. The carrots are the season’s freshest produce, the dry fruits that go into it are nourishing and the halwa can be stored in the fridge for days.
Here’s a recipe from chef Ranjan Rajan, executive chef at Hotel Sahara Star in Mumbai.
750 grams grated carrots (4 full cups of grated carrots)
1 litre whole milk
Three-fourth cup sugar (around 150 grams)
One-fourth teaspoon cardamom powder
One-fourth cup chopped almonds and chopped raisin
2 tbsp ghee
1. Peel and grate the carrots using a hand grater or food processor (use the thicker side/blade). Keep it aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a heavy-bottom pan. Add almonds and raisins, and sauté for a few seconds. Take it out on a plate.
3. Add the grated carrots to the same pan (it’s okay if there is some ghee left in the pan) and turn the heat to medium-high.
4. Stirring often, sauté the carrots for around 2 minutes. Now add milk. Stir well.
5. Let the carrot and milk cook for about 30 minutes on medium heat. Make sure to stir in between. And keep a close watch. Don’t leave the carrot halwa unattended.
6. After 30 minutes, you will notice milk has reduced to half or a little bit more than half. Remember to stir very often to avoid the mixture from getting stuck to the bottom of the pan and burning.
7. Keep stirring the halwa often on medium-low heat and cook until all the milk is absorbed by the carrots. You will notice that the milk reduces to milk solids. This will take anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes.
8 At this point add in the sugar. After the sugar melts, the halwa will have a runny, liquid consistency.
9. Continue to cook the halwa, stirring continuously until the sugary liquid is soaked up. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
10. Don’t let the halwa dry out a lot since it will continue to thicken as it cools.
11. Add the roasted nuts, cardamom powder, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee (or more if you want) and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir continuously.
12. Gajar ka halwa is ready. Serve warm.