Diwali is one of my favorite times of the year! The lights, lamps, parties, and most of all, THE FOOD!
I remember as a child we always loved celebrating all the Indian festivals in a very opulent manner at home and Diwali was no exception. I fondly recall memories of watching my Mother & paternal Grandmothers instruct everyone to clean the house weeks before Diwali, get ready with all the clay lamps, and most of all plan the menu for all the sweet treats & snacks that would be made during that time.
Gajar Halwa was one of the sweet treats that were an all-time favorite of mine that my maternal Grandmother had completely mastered. Her halwa was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of sweetness, cardamom, & earthy flavors of the carrots, and always packed with dried fruits & nuts!
Here’s a recreation of my Grandmother’s Gajar Halwa in an easy & foolproof way. —Amrutha Harsha Rao
grated khoya or mawa (thickened milk)
0.75 - 1 cups
sugar, depending on how sweet your carrots are and how sweet you like your desserts
total of almonds, cashews, & raisins
slivered or chopped almonds, for garnish
In a small saucepan heat up 2 teaspoons of ghee and add in the dried fruits & nuts and toast until golden brown and the raisins are puffed. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed deep-dish heat up 6 tablespoons of ghee and add in all of the grated carrots. Toss in well to make sure that all the carrots are coated with the ghee and allow to cook on a medium-low flame until completely cooked through.
Ensure to stir frequently so that the carrots don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. It should take anywhere between 20-25 minutes for the carrots to cook through and soften.
Once the carrots have cooked, add in all of the grated khoya, cardamom powder, & sugar and stir to mix well. The carrots will let out more of the water in them once the sugar is added.
Add in the dried toasted nuts & raisins and stir well. Taste for seasoning at this time and adjust if necessary.
Transfer to your serving dish and garnish with the slivered almonds and serve warm.
• Once you have grated your carrots give them a taste to check how sweet they are. The amount of sugar you need to add to the dessert is dependent on this.
• When adding the sugar start with 1/2 cup and work your way up to 3/4 or 1 cup, if necessary. The sugars in the carrots when cooked intensify and can add to the sweetness of the dish.
• If you don’t have or cannot find khoya (mawa), you can replace it with either condensed milk, evaporated milk, or a mixture of whole milk & heavy cream. Just make sure to add the milk with the carrots so the carrots cook in the milk & it reduces to a thick & creamy consistency.
• If using sweetened condensed milk, omit the sugar as the sugars in the carrots & condensed milk together make the dish quite sweet.