Thursday, February 16, 2012
Not so humble carrot halwa!
So we are all familiar with the ubiquitous carrot halwa or gaajar ka halwa. For those of you who are not, it is a dessert concoction made by cooking finely grated carrot, butter, sugar and condensed milk together in a pot and scenting it with the fragrance of freshly ground cardamom and garnished with crushed pistachios or cashew nuts. Essentially Indian, essentially simple and plain yummylicious. This used to be a constant at home when we were growing up and Amma used to happily oblige whenever we used to nag her for more. Eventually, our needs outgrew her manpower (considering you have to fine grate piles of carrots like its no man's business because we all have voracious appetites when it comes to carrot halwa) and that is one of the first things we kids learnt to prepare ourselves. The fact that it is no rocket science certainly helped. We have lots of happy memories associated to this plate of solid carrot gold (So our man Proust was bang on after all when he wrote of the famous madeleine! :) ) Plus, it's a treat for the eyes, literally and metaphorically (look at all that carrot!), and can make us siblings nostalgic any given day!
P.S: What were your favorite food memories when growing up?
1 kg Finely grated Carrot
190 g cubed Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cup full cream milk
1 cup Condensed milk
3 pods of Cardamom
Toasted Pistachios or cashew nuts sautéd in butter - a handful, or whatever makes you happy
Toss the grated carrot into a wide and thick bottomed vessel and bring the flame to a medium. This may look like a lot of carrot, but trust me, its not. It will shrink in size as you evaporate all the water in it.
Mix the milk, condensed milk and sugar in a bowl.
Using a long stemmed and comfortable to hold spoon, keep stirring the carrot around so that none of it sticks to the bottom of the vessel. Continue for ten minutes and then add the cubed butter and do not forget, keep stirring. Add the crushed cardamom.
After five minutes, add the milk-sugar mix and keep stirring faithfully. Work up some elbow grease and continue to stir. This will go on for a good twenty five minutes or till the mix in the vessel starts coming together in a lump or a ball when you try to move it around. It should all clump together and when you take a bit in between your finger tips and try to roll it, it rolls and stays a ball.
Remove from the flame and keep aside to cool for ten minutes.
If you have the self restraint to wait, spoon the carrot halwa into a pan or a box and press it down to the bottom and pack it in tight. Garnish with the nuts of your choice and admire the marvel that is.
Seal it tight and store in the refrigerator if you are only going to eat the next day. I can not say how long it keeps good because i have not had the opportunity to check that for myself, but am assuming 4 - 5 days easily when refrigerated. Slice into pieces and enjoy! I can swear and say it tastes just as yum when refrigerated and when eaten fresh, burnt tongue et al! :), ok, kidding about the burnt tongue but greed has to be paid for, so be careful and allow to cool before eating.