Gajar ka halwa
|Alternative names||Gajar halva, gajorer halwa, carrot pudding, carrot halwa|
|Place of origin||North India, Pakistan, Bangladesh|
|Region or state||Indian subcontinent; associated with Punjab|
|Serving temperature||Hot or cold|
|Main ingredients||Carrots, milk, water, ghee, sugar|
|Variations||Red velvet halwa, carrot and beetroot halwa, cheesy carrot halwa|
|Cookbook: Gajar ka halwa Media: Gajar ka halwa|
Gajar ka halwa (Hindi: गाजर का हलवा), also known as gajorer halwa (not to be confused with gajrela),  is a carrot-based sweet dessert pudding from the Indian subcontinent. It is made by placing grated carrot in a pot containing a specific amount of water, milk and sugar and then cooking while stirring regularly. It is often served with a garnish of almonds and pistachios. The nuts and other items used are first sautéed in ghee, a South Asian clarified butter.
Gajar ka halwa is a combination of nuts, milk, sugar, khoya and ghee with grated carrot. It is a light nutritious dessert with less fat (a minimum of 10.03% and an average of 12.19%) than many other typical South Asian desserts. Gajar halwa has a medium shelf life so it is now sometimes exported.
At festival time many people prefer vegetarian dishes as well as desserts in their Thali. Because of its low fat content, vegetarian characteristics, ease of making, medium shelf-life and taste Gajar ka halwa is a popular dessert all over India and often served at most festivals. The dish is popular among adults as well as children. In 300 grams of gajar halwa there are 268 calories (76 come from fat, 180 from carbohydrate and 16 from protein).
The gajar ka halwa was first introduced during the Mughal period and the name originates from the Arabic word "halwa", which means "sweet" and it is made from carrot (in Hindi: gajar) so that it is known as gajar ka halwa (meaning pudding of carrot or Halwa of carrot). It is strongly associated with Punjab but it is not clear whether it originated there. It is very similar to the other types of Punjabi halwa. Gajar ka halwa originally contained carrots, milk and ghee but nowadays includes many other ingredients like mava (khoya). This age old traditional recipe remained in Punjabi cookbooks for many years. Being a combination of milk and carrots it is known as milk flavored gajar ka halwa but in the other case, the combination of cream or mava (khoya) and carrot is described as mava flavored gajar ka halwa.
Recipe and ingredients
The main ingredients of gajar ka halwa are freshly grated carrots, milk, sugar, khoya, and ghee. The quantity and quality may vary according to personal taste. In the sugar free variant, sugar is excluded from the recipe. For cooking gajar ka halwa, a cooker or kadai is usually preferred. Vasundhara Chauhan, writing for The Hindu, writes that gajar ka halwa should be slow-cooked and that using a pressure cooker spoils the dish. Carrots must first be grated and then dried before cooking. The grated carrots are then put into a heated pan with a specific amount of milk or khoya and sugar. After stirring for 4–5 minutes, roughly chopped cashew nuts are added and 10–15 minutes later a specific amount of pure ghee is added as well. Finally, it is often served with a garnish of almonds and pistachios.
In the carrot-papaya halwa, equal amounts of carrot and papaya are used. First, a mixture of carrot and papaya scrapings is prepared. This mixture is fried in a kadai or a cooker with ghee for about 5 minutes. The rest of the process is same as the basic recipe. This recipe has become popular lately because papaya is added to it which provides a different flavor and taste compared to the regular gajar ka halwa. Red velvet carrot halwa is another famous variation of the gajar ka halwa. It is made by heating a comparatively large amount of milk cream along with carrots, sugar, rose water and saffron over low flame. Red velvet carrot halwa is also a very good source of Vitamin A and Calcium.
Other lesser-known variations include Carrot and beetroot halwa, cheese gajar ka halwa, khajur gajar ka halwa and carrot dessert. These variations vary in popularity by regional/personal preferences, with the traditional gajar ka halwa being most popular. In the carrot and beetroot halwa, grated beetroot is added to grated carrots and this mixture is heated in a kadai on a low flame and further a specific amount of mava and sugar per choice is added to it. After 30 minutes of stirring and cooking, carrot and beetroot halwa is ready to be served. Cheese gajar ka halwa is prepared with a combination of purple carrots and ricotta. This dish is popular in northern India because purple carrots are mostly grown there.
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