The beauty of winter root vegetables, such as beetroot and carrots, are celebrated in many sweet and savory ways in India. The most common of the sweets using carrots or beetroots are called halwas or puddings. Gajar Halwa is a traditional carrot fudge pudding that is enjoyed in the winter months. I would have never believed that this indulgent dessert, traditionally laden with clarified butter and solidified and evaporated milk could be adapted to a vegan version. Actually, these days we like this version as much as the original; it needs less attention than the traditional version and tastes just as delectable.
I made this mid-week version with light coconut milk, almonds and a hint of powdered jaggery and carrots from our garden. The result was a glossy beautiful dessert that glistened with the sheen of the coconut milk and wafted the comforting fragrance of coconut cream and cardamom. This variation also added dates to boost the iron content and the sweetness. It also showcases the natural sweetness of the carrots well. It takes some time to make but cooks mostly unattended. It is a fool-proof way to add color to the table. It looks regal and romantic and will encourage you to think beyond pink when considering a dessert.
I have used almonds in this recipe, if you wish you can use a mixture of almonds and pistachios the taste will not be very different but the colors will be more appealing.
Khajur Gajar Halwa – Carrot and Date Pudding with Coconut and Cardamoms
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours (mostly unattended)
Serves 4 to 6
- 6 medium sized carrots, peeled
- 1 can of light coconut milk (about 1 and ½ cups)
- 6 green cardamoms, bruised
- ½ cup of dates, seeded and cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup powdered jaggery or raw cane sugar
- ½ cup of coarsely ground almonds (can be a mixture of almonds and pistachios)
- Place the carrots in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
- Place the coconut milk in a wide heavy bottomed pan hard anodized pan and bring to a simmer.
- Add in the processed carrots and the cardamoms and simmer on medium low heat for 1 and ½ hours. About halfway through the process you will need to add in one cup of water. The objective is to cook the carrots until they are soft and have the consistency of a chunky puree.
- Add in the powdered jaggery or sugar and the dates and cook until the jaggery or sugar is completely melted and absorbed for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the powdered almonds and serve warm.