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, something Indian. I thought of Gajar Ka Halwa, or an Indian Carrot Pudding. I rummaged around the internet 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 recipe and decided to give my mom a call to confirm it. 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. The ghee brand I used in this dish did not contain any Trans fat. In addition, ghee is an Ayurvedic ingredient which helps in anti-aging and digestion.
TIP: If you want you can replace the 2 tbsp of Ghee with 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter in this recipe. In addition, if you want to use less Ghee, you can try making this dish with just 1 tbsp of Ghee. Let me know if you try it.
NUTRITION: Carrots are LOADED with Vitamin A (eyes). Also, it is a very good source of Fiber, Vitamins C and K. Milk adds some Calcium and Protein to this dish. Cashews add a good amount of Protein to this dish as well.
MODIFICATIONS I MADE:
- Instead of using cream, whole milk, or evaporated milk, I used 2% Reduced Fat Milk.
- I lowered the amount of Ghee used, you can also substitute butter for ghee.
- I skipped using raisins and almonds in this dish because I dislike them in Gajar Ka Halwa. Instead I used cashew nuts.
APPROXIMATE NUTRITION PER SERVING (yields 3 servings)
- Calories: 316 cals
- Fat: 16.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 8.2 g
- Carbs: 44 g
- Protein: 6.7 g
- Fiber: 3.3 g
~ yields 3 servings
~ fat was not reduced in this recipe, except the milk. To lower the fat even further, substitute ghee with equal amounts of butter. This will help cut down the fat by 16%. This is definitely not going to lower the fat or saturated fat by a significant amount, however it is still better than nothing.
- Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 2 tbsp (or you can substitute with unsalted butter)
- Carrots – 3 cups or 1 pound or 6 medium size (peeled & shredded)
- Milk 2% Reduced Fat – 1 1/2 cups
- Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Sugar – 6 tbsp
- Cashews – 2 to 3 tbsp (dry roasted & chopped)
1. Dry roast the cashew nuts in small pan. Once they slightly brown, remove them from the stove. Chop the cashews. Set aside!
2. Peel carrots.
3. Shred carrots. I used my Cusinart 11 Cup Food Processor – probably one of the best kitchen gadgets you’ll invest in.
4. Heat a wok on medium heat. Once hot, add ghee (clarified butter) or butter.
5. Add shredded carrots and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the carrots cook down. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
6. Add milk. Allow the milk to cook down for about 6 minutes, or until the milk reduces. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
7. This is what you should have.
8. Add cardamom powder.
9. Add sugar.
10. This is what you should have. Now keep stirring until all the milk evaporates.. should be a few minutes.
11. Notice the milk is evaporated, add half of the dry roasted cashew nuts. Combine.
12. Transfer the Gajar Ka Halwa to a bowl and garnish with the remaining cashews.
OVERALL RATING: 5 / 5
This dish tasted delicious. It was creamy, rich, and slightly nutty. The ghee certainly helped in enriching the carrot pudding even further. There was just the right amount of sweetness. This dish was very filling, between my husband and I we were only able to eat half of what I made. Just a tip, Gajar Ka Halwa tastes best when warm.
Texture: The texture was rich and creamy. There is nothing I would change about it. You really don’t need whole milk or cream in this recipe.
Moistness: Quite obviously this dish was very moist with the high amount of saturated fat. Next time I would like to try making this dish with butter and trim down the fat by 16%. If you try it, let me know how it works out!
TELL ME: If you celebrate Diwali, how did you celebrate and what sweets did you make?