Gajar Ka Halwa is made with a base of carrots, milk and sugar and flavored with cardamom, a spice present in abundance in this country of sweets. Do you know what the Halva is? Probably most of you are unaware of it, since it is not a very widespread sweet in the West. The opposite is true for a large part of the rest of the planet, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans, Middle East and India and Pakistan.
Halva, also known as halwa, halvah, halava, helva, halawa is a word meaning sweet, consisting of a paste, sometimes based on sesame or sunflower seeds and is always sweetened with honey and to which are usually added dry fruits and cinnamon, rose water, or other fragrances. Although it is a very widespread sweet, its preparation and result varies quite according to the area where it is prepared.
In the Eastern Mediterranean area (Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece) to Iran, India or Pakistan, the traditional halva is prepared with semolina, sugar or honey and some oil, with the addition of nuts. This halva is more gelatinous and transparent.
The semolina halva is an invention of northern India that is made there, being somewhat less popular in the south. A very popular version of the halva in the south is a version of halva or alvaa, as it is denominated in Tamil and that comes from Tirunelveli, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu. A variant of the closely related halva that is much prepared in India is the kesari halwa.
In the area of the Balkans, Israel and the Middle East, the Halva consists of a paste prepared with Tahini (pasta of sesame) and syrup or honey, to which also is added dry fruits. In their preparation, egg white or marshmallow root are used as emulsifiers or to create a distinctive texture of each halva, which are added to recipes in these areas. It is cut into portions once cold and can be kept for a long time because the sugar acts as a preservative. In Eastern European countries such as Belarus, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, there is a third variety prepared from seeds of sunflower instead of sesame seeds and is very similar to the sesame halva.
There is a fourth variety based on carrots that is prepared in India (gajar ka halwa) and from there you can let your imagination fly. In India halvas are also made with mung beans (moong dal halwa). There are variants with condensed milk and ghee, without semolina. Badam Halva is made with almonds, sugar and milk.
Although the idea of grinding a nut with sugar or honey is not like the most brilliant in the world, it has its own fineness and its culinary delicacy, with the halva follows the philosophy that is done with what there is. In Romania it is made with sunflower seeds, in Greece with tahini and sesame and in Spain with almonds.
I cannot fail to mention the Argentinean version called mantecol, which is made with peanuts. This Latin American version of the halva was taken to the Austral lands by the Chinese. And on the other hand without doubt the different varieties of halva have similarities with the nougats.
I am going to illustrate the preparatory stages of the Gajar Ka Halwa recipe, a popular, delicious as well as nutritious carrot dessert from Northern India for kids as well as elders.
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Calories per serving: 470 calories per 100 gms
4 cups carrots
2 cups milk
250 gms cheese
1 tsp cardamom powder
4 cup water
3 tbsp clarified butter
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp almonds
2 tbsp pistachios
1 cup sugar
15 saffron strands
6 cashew nuts
Wash and grate the carrots. Soak the raisins in water for 30 minutes. Blanch and shred the nuts.
Boil the milk on medium-high heat in a pan until it is reduced to about 1 cup. Stir often. Set aside.
Add butter in a large pan and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the grated carrots. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the milk and sugar. Mix well and turn the flame to low and keep stirring the mixture at regular intervals. Add the cheese, saffron strands, almonds, cardamom powder and the raisins. Mix well.
Remove the halwa from heat and arrange in a serving dish. Garnish with cashew nuts and pista. Serve it either hot or cold.
In a glass bowl, combine the ghee and grated carrots. Cover with a lid and microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes.
Add the milk, sugar, cheese, saffron strands, almonds, raisins, cardamom powder and mix well. Cover with a lid and microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes.
Serve hot, garnished with the sliced pistachios, cashew nuts.