Halwa means something sweet in Arabic (حلوى) and is eaten by people in the Middle East, Asia, North Africa and Europe.
The term Halwa is used to describe 2 types of desserts:
- Flour-based – This type of halva is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina. The primary ingredients are clarified butter, flour, and sugar.
- Nut-butter-based – This type of halva is crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nut butter and sugar.
I love this dish because its soo simple and with a vegetable that has many benefits. Of course, most of those benefits fly out the window after you’ve made it, but knowing its made from a vegetable, makes me feel less guilty!
Although I’ve given the 2 types of Halwa above, my dessert doesn’t use most of the traditional ingredients. I follow a much simpler recipe and it’s worked fine for me. I haven’t made a flour or nut butter based Halwa to say which is better or easier, but if you go out to your local Asian store you should find a few ready-made ones. Or an Asian confectionery store that sell fresh ones to see which one you like best for flavour and texture.
This dessert needs simple household ingredients and steps are easy to follow.
Recipe: To serve 5-8 people
Carrot – 600g-
Milk (Whole/Semi-skimmed/Soya) – 750ml –
Cinnamon Sticks (small) -2-3-
Cardamon Pods -2-
Ghee/Butter – 1 tbsp
Sugar (Brown/White/Fruit Sugar) – 150g
(Optional) Nuts – 5-10g – : Pistachio/Cashew/Almond/Peanut/Walnut
(Optional) Raisins – 5-10g – : Black/Green/Yellow (Gold)
*I recommend using the ones I’ve underlined for this dish. They are for garnishing mostly so it will be left till last.
Liquid measurer (jug)
Small bowls to serve
Wash and peel the carrots. Choose a grater with small holes and hold your grater over the large bowl or inside for a stronger grip and grate away. The smaller the grated carrots, the softer it will become whilst boiling in the milk. Make sure you keep all the juice that comes out in the bowl!
Below is a close up of the grater I used and the size of the grater style that is ideal for this dish.
Put your large saucepan on the hob on full heat . Pour your grated carrots in, followed by the milk, the cinnamon sticks and cardamon pods . Heat the saucepan WITHOUT the lid on and stir occasionally. After 20-25 mins the milk should be almost evaporated and you then add the sugar.
You wait till the milk has nearly evaporated before adding in the sugar. The sugar will bring out more water and you can then heat it for 5-8 mins for a nice moist texture with most of the sugar evaporated. Then you add the tbsp of the butter/ghee and cook for 5-7 mins or slightly longer, depending on how dry or moist you want the end product to be.
*Don’t make it too dry in the saucepan as the milk will continue to evaporate even after you take it off heat. Moist halwa is better in flavour and texture.
*Also keep in mind that the type of sugar you use will effect the colour of the end product. E.g. using brown sugar means the halwa will turn our darker, but just as sweet if you were to use white sugar. Don’t be afraid to use brown sugar! It adds colour and an extra sweetness that normal white sugar doesn’t have.
Once you see the juice has nearly evaporated and the carrot has turned a golden or darker colour than before (this is because of the sugar and ghee/butter, you add the toppings of your choice: nuts and/or raisins.
And you’re done!
I suggest serving it along side a cold sweet dish. Gajar ka halwais most commonly served with Vanilla Ice Cream or other Asian sweets like Gulab Jamun or Kala Jamun.
To find out more about these other sweets visit this link:
The steps are simple and although it takes some time to make, it well worth it and dead easy!
Try it at home and let me know what you think of it.