When it comes to halwa, the variations are countless... you have halwa made from suji or semolina, dudhi or bottle gourd, moong dal, banana, beetroot, peas and even bread. But if there is one ingredient that beats them all, it's the good old carrot. Grated carrots cooked in milk and sugar and garnished with a generous helping of nuts are a staple winter dessert in most Indian households. But as our waist lines are growing bigger and exercising hours are getting shorter, we can't help but scout for healthy options to these desserts.
I have tried making sugar free carrot halwa with regular date [wet dates] paste too. But it changes the colour to a very unappetising shade and the flavour does not blend well with the carrots. After a few trials, this recipe passed the test of taste.
750g carrots [red variety]
Coconut milk 500ml
Dry dates 1 cup [khareek]. You can add more if you like
Cardamom powder 2 tsp
Nutmeg powder 1 tsp
Poppy seeds 2 tbsp [khus khus]
Almonds 2 tbsp [soaked in water, skin peeled and chopped]
Cashews 2 tbsp [halved or chopped]
- Soak the dry dates or khareek in water for 6 - 7 hours or over night. Then deseed them and chop finely in a chopper. You can also coarsely blend in a blender. Don't make it into a paste. Do not discard the water used for soaking these dates.
- Grate the carrots or chop them too in the chopper.
- Now take the chopped carrots, cashews and khareek in a pressure cooker. Add the water which was used to soak dates. Mix this well and pressure cook for 4 - 5 whistles.
- Once the steam releases, open the lid and add in the coconut milk and poppy seeds. Now cook the halwa on low flame, stirring occasionally.
- When the halwa dries up, turn off the flame and add the cardamom powder, nutmeg and sliced almonds.
- Your gajar halwa is ready to serve.
When using dry fruits such as almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, pistachios it is better to soak them in water for 3 - 4 hours before consuming. This makes them less acidic and more alkaline, making it more healthy. It also enhances the taste of the nuts.
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