Gajar ka halwa is an quintessential Indian dessert found almost in every home or restaurant. This is a dessert that reigns supreme in India. It is extremely rich, creamy, gently spiced and beautifully flavored.
The commercial versions are quite poor, and bland, and usually topped with commercial ice cream of poor quality. I have always been peeved by this fact so I created this recipe to give my guests a true version of this wonderful dessert.
Here, I have used the winter deep red carrots, they have a lovely earthy flavor that notches up this dessert. You can also use regular carrots if the red variety is not available. In addition, the dessert is spiced to add nuances of flavors, and yes the black pepper adds that very subtle hint of heat, with the other spices it brings this dessert alive.
Finally, to convert this dessert into an ice cream, I had to steep the cream with the same spices so that we did not dilute the original flavors with plain cream. The result is extraordinary. You can also serve the gajar ka halwa by itself, but please no plain ice cream.
The base recipe for the gajar ka halwa if from this amazing cookbook. The recipe is pure decadence, all I had to really do was work on converting it to an ice cream. The recipe is really not that hard to make, it just needs time to slowly cook down the milk and caramelize the sugars.
Yamuna Devi's cookbook is probably the first cookbook I bought when I moved to the US 30 years ago for my Ph.D. Over the years, I have cooked almost half the recipes, it is the cookbook that taught me technique, flavor profiles and always gave me a wonderful meal. This vegetarian cookbook is essential on any shelf, it is the bible of Indian vegetarian cuisine.
For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.
1 lb red carrots (or regular), scrubbed thoroughly and coarsely grated
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon green cardamom powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 piece mace, powdered
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 generous pinches saffron
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup black raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup ghee
Roasted salted cashew nuts to garnish
Heavy cream (optional)
For the ice cream:
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
A pinch ground cloves
A generous pinch saffron
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Add the carrots, condensed milk, sugar, cream, and all the spices to a large non-stick pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes, you will see the liquids slowly evaporate and the mix thicken. Stir the pot often to stop the milk solids from sticking to the bottom and burning.
Simmer further for an additional 20-25 minutes, stirring almost continually till the milk caramelizes and is a light golden color and paste like.
Heat the ghee in a separate pan with the pistachios, almonds and raisins and sauté for 3-4 minutes on a low flame to get the nuts to turn a light golden color. Tip this mix into the cooking carrot mix.
Mix in well and fry the halwa on a low flame for about 30-40 minutes. You need to keep the flame low so as not to burn the milk solids. The halwa will turn from a light golden to a deep brown and the oils will begin to seep out. Taste the halwa and make sure the milk solids are not tasting pasty, but are rich and caramelized.
Serve warm topped with a salted cashew nut and cream on the side for those who would like it. No ice cream lease, enjoy the dish in its purest form, not drowned out by really cheap ice cream.
To make the ice cream, heat the cream with all the spices till it just begins to simmer. Stir the cream to mix in all the spices evenly and take off the stove in 2 minutes. Let the mix cool on the counter to allow the spices to infuse the cream.
When cool. mix in about 1/2 the gajar ka halwa into the cream. You want add just enough gajar ka halwa so that the cream is barely runny. Mix well with a spatula breaking down all the lumps. taste an make sure you get a strong aroma and taste of gajar ka halwa..
Churn on the ice cream setting in your ice cream maker. Alternatively, you can freeze this directly in the freezer overnight.
Serve by its self, or with scoops of the gajar ka halwa.
Note: This ice cream will never become completely solid, it will get very thick and very cold but not set into a solid like commercial ice creams because of all the fats in it.