Sid Sahwarat’s Carrot Halva (Gajar Halwa)
COMPLEXITY: MODERATE | PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES | COOK TIME: 2 HOURS 30 MINUTES | SERVES: 8 TO 10
I remember eating halva when I was in the UK – you don’t see it quite so much in New Zealand. Halva is a Middle Eastern dessert that dates back thousands of years. It’s dense, sweet, and can be made with any number of flavours.
I wanted to share this one as it’s a great recipe to have on hand around Christmas, or when you have a lot of people over, as a little can go a long way, making it well worth the effort.
- 3 1/3 lb (1½ kg) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
- 2 1/3 cups (560 ml) evaporated milk
- ½ cup (75 g) raisins
- 1½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 3½ oz (100 g) khoa (also known as mawa: milk solids, from the frozen section of Indian grocers), grated
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- pinch of saffron (optional)
- ¼ cup (30 g) slivered almonds
- ¼ cup (40 g) cashews
- edible flowers (optional), for garnish
- vanilla ice cream (optional), for serving
Stir the carrot and evaporated milk together in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for around 40 minutes until the carrot is soft, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cover the raisins in hot water and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes.
Stir the sugar into the carrot mix and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring often. Drain the raisins, and reserve a few tablespoons of raisins and khoa for garnish. Stir the remaining raisins and khoa, plus the ghee, cardamom, and saffron, into the carrot mix. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes until all of the milk is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, set a medium-sized frying pan over a medium-low heat and toast the nuts, separately, until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
To serve, spoon the carrot halwa into a mound in one large or multiple individual serving bowls. Garnish with the reserved raisins and khoa, toasted nuts, and edible flowers. Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream, or cold.
Leftover halwa will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. Garnish with nuts only when serving, to keep the nuts crunchy.
TIP: Halwa can be prepared 1 to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, which will further develop the flavour. Reheat gently to serve warm (my preference), or eat cold.
JOSH’S NOTES: Ensure that the heat is very low, otherwise the liquid will evaporate too quickly.
Sid Sahrawat’s Carrot Halwa from The Recipe by Josh Emett, image copyright © Kieran E. Scott, design copyright © Blackwell and Ruth Ltd, 2019.