Gajar ka halwa (Hindi: गाजर का हलवा, Urdu / Punjabi: گاجر کا حلوە), also known as Gajrela, is a sweet dessert pudding associated mainly with the North India and Pakistan. It is made by placing grated carrot in a pot containing a specific amount of water, milk and sugar and then cooking while stirring regularly. It is often served with a garnish of almonds and pistachios. The nuts and other items used are first sautéed in ghee, a South Asian clarified butter.
The dessert is favorite all over Northern India and Pakistan. It is traditionally eaten during all of the festivals in India, mainly on the occasion of Diwali, Holi, Eid al-Fitr and Raksha Bandhan. It is served hot during the winter.
Nowadays, gajar ka halwa is a popular worldwide dessert with many variations such as red velvet halwa, carrot and beetroot halwa, and cheesy carrot halwa.
There are many variations of gajar ka halwa, but its main ingredients are freshly grated carrots, milk, sugar, khoya, and ghee. The quantity and quality may vary according to personal taste. In the sugar free variant, sugar is excluded from the recipe. For cooking gajar ka halwa, a cooker or kadai is usually preferred. Carrots must first be grated and then dried before cooking. The grated carrots are then put into a heated pan with a specific amount of milk or khoya and sugar. After stirring for 4–5 minutes, roughly chopped cashew nuts are added and 10–15 minutes later a specific amount of pure ghee is added as well. Finally, it is often served with a garnish of almonds and pistachios.
Gajar ka halwa is a combination of nuts, milk, sugar, khoya and ghee with grated carrot. It is a light nutritious dessert with less fat (a minimum of 10.03% and an average of 12.19%) than many other typical South Asian desserts. Gajar halwa has a medium shelf life so it is now sometimes exported.
At festival time many people prefer vegetarian dishes as well as desserts in their Thali. Because of its low fat content, vegetarian characteristics, ease of making, medium shelf-life and taste Gajar ka halwa is a popular dessert all over India and often served at most festivals. The dish is popular among adults as well as children. In 300 grams of gajar halwa there are 268 calories (76 come from fat, 180 from carbohydrate and 16 from protein).
If made with enough milk mawa/khoya, halwa can be cut into pieces once cooled.
- Carrots 4 Medium , peeled, washed, shredded
- Ghee 3 Tablespoon
- Milk powder 1/2 Cup (8 tbs)
- Sugar 1/4 Cup (4 tbs)
- Cardamom powder 1/4 Teaspoon
- Saffron 1 Pinch
- Almonds 1 Tablespoon , slivered (Optional)
- Pistachios 1 Tablespoon , slivered (Optional)
- Cashews 1 Tablespoon (Optional)
- Raisins 1 Tablespoon (Optional)
Heat a pan at medium temperature, add the ghee and the shredded carrots and cook them well until tender.
Once the carrots are done, add the nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews and raisins), reserving some for decorating the sweet before serving. Cook for a few more minutes. (Carrots are to be cooked for a minimum of 6 minutes)
Add milk powder and stir for a few minutes.
Add sugar and stir well. Finally add the cardamom powder and stir to combine well.
Serve the carrot pudding garnished with the slivered almonds, pistachios and raisins.
A low fat option of making this halwa is by steaming the carrots instead of cooking it in ghee.