Today is Diwali, the festival of lights which is also known as the Hindu New Year. It is the celebration of health, wealth, and prosperity in the hope of having a happy new year. Similar to Christmas, Diwali is a festival where people decorate their homes with flowers, lights, and diyas (candles). Later in the evening, a puja (prayer) is performed for Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. Family and friends share sweets during the celebration of Diwali.
I wanted to start the New Year right so I decided to make something sweet and Indian. I rummaged around the internet in search for a good recipe, however some recipes contained way too much fat, and others had way too many ingredients. After 30 minutes I came up with my own idea of making Gajar ka Halwa and called my mom to confirm my recipe. She agreed and I was ready to go.
Many recipes I found for Gajar Ka Halwa incorporated cream, whole milk, or even evaporated milk, I skipped those ingredients and just used 2% Reduced Fat Milk. In addition, I personally don’t like raisins and almonds in this dish, so instead I used a few dry roasted cashews as garnish.
Now the most fattening ingredient used in this dish was Ghee, which is clarified butter. In comparison to butter, ghee is much more flavorful with a nutty flavor and slightly more fat & saturated fat. You can use ghee or butter in this dish, whichever you prefer, however a little amount of ghee will go a loooooooooong way in this dish. In the past I have been very quick to rule out ghee as a bad ingredient, but after studying its nutrition facts and understanding its properties, I don’t really believe it is terribly worse than butter. They both are fattening and they both have a good amount of saturated fat. Realistically speaking though, they both should be enjoyed in moderation. In addition, ghee is an Ayurvedic ingredient which helps in anti-aging and digestion.
- Ghee - 2 tbsp
- Carrots - 3 cups or 1 pound or 6 medium size (peeled & shredded)
- Milk 2% Reduced Fat - 1½ cups
- Cardamom Powder - ½ tsp
- Sugar - 6 tbsp
- Cashews - 2 to 3 tbsp (dry roasted & chopped)
- Dry roast the cashew nuts in small pan. Once they slightly brown, remove them from the stove. Chop the cashews. Set aside.
- Peel the carrots.
- Shred the carrots. I used my Cusinart 11 Cup Food Processor - probably one of the best kitchen gadgets you'll invest in.
- Heat a wok on medium heat. Once hot, add ghee (clarified butter) or butter.
- Add shredded carrots and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the carrots cook down. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
- Add milk. Allow the milk to cook down for about 6 minutes, or until the milk reduces. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
- The carrots will start to cook down.
- Here is what you will see.
- This is what you should have once the milk has almost evaporated.
- Add cardamom powder.
- Add sugar.
- This is what you should have. Now keep stirring until all the milk evaporates.. should be a few minutes.
- Notice the milk is evaporated, add half of the dry roasted cashew nuts. Combine.
- Transfer the Gajar Ka Halwa to a bowl and garnish with the remaining cashews.
** Just a tip, Gajar Ka Halwa tastes best when warm.