When the festival of lights come to my lands, it comes with sweets, in all forms. I love cooking Gajar Ka Halva, or, Carrot Halva or Halua, or Halwa, as it is known in different parts. Besides being obnoxiously tasty, this is one of those recipes which, besides being amazingly sugary, just might be great for the skin too (Thanks to all that carrots).
My version is not too sweet, filled with nuts and the aroma of melted ghee. Here is how I make it.
Grate a kilo of fat, big carrots coarsely and set aside. I like mine slightly more coarse than what is the norm, but if you think thin shavings of carrots are your life, please go ahead and knock yourself out. I will not judge you. You need to wash it before you grate it and then put it in a big bowl awaiting its fate.
Heat 200 gm. Ghee (clarified butter) in a heavy-bottomed vessel over medium heat. Make sure you get a big vessel, because it is important to fit all that grated carrot in it. Add a handful of Cashews. Remove them from the fat when the cashews are golden.
To the same pan, add 5 whole green cardamoms, slightly squished, and a stick of cinnamon, bruised.
Let them play around in the pan before adding your carrots. Stir so that the carrots are slightly wilted. Cover and simmer till the carrots are semi-soft.
Add 1 tin (400 gm.) condensed milk, 3/4th cup of milk, and 4 tbsp. honey or 4 tbsp. sugar to the mixture along with a pinch of salt. I don’t like sugar, so I add honey to my taste. Feel free to substitute condensed milk with cream and sugar to your liking. However, I have realized that condensed milk gives this recipe a silky edge without even trying. Stir thoroughly, and cover. Cook till the carrots are done and the mixture is thick. Remember, it will settle when it cools, so if it looks slightly more liquid than whatever is to your liking, do not despair.
Remove from heat, finish with more ghee (at least three or four tablespoon’s worth) and the fried cashews. Let it cool down a bit before digging in. My mother tells me to add pistachio nuts to this, but I generally prefer keeping it as simple as possible.
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