Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Gajrela | Gajar Halwa or Carrot pudding, a North Indian sweet delicacy

Every one has good memories and moments to cherish lifelong. Especially, if those memories are from your days of childhood, then  who doesn't crave to live those moments once again !! 
Winter is here and reminisce my childhood days when we used to enjoy one month winter break. Respite from the monotony of school and the mundane schedule.

Winter vacation was all about picnics with family, interesting hobby classes and sumptuous Kumaoni food, which we ate together while sitting in our balconies under the sun.Winter is a season of Lazy months. Cladded in woolens we all hate to move out from the warm and cozy layers of our blankets. Strangely at this time of the year even our eating habits suddenly turn upside down. From home made delicacies with extra layer of butter to the greasy items like halwas of different types, pakoras, samosas and stuffed parathas. Parathas stuffed with mashed potatoes, radish or cottage cheese tops the hitlist in these months.
When i talk of winters i cant miss mentioning my all time favorite 'Gajar Halwa' cooked by my mom. Delicious in taste and very addictive. Its from my mom that i have inherited an inclination towards cooking. Mums are outstanding cooks! My mom's cooking has always been experimental, innovative and absolutely random and she always told me that food cooked with love can never go wrong. Now when i have taken over this task completely, i know what she meant.

Winters are here and there are time when i return from office and feel the urge to eat something sweet. I miss my ma's homemade love. She would always cook loads of halwa, store in the freezer and serve hot whenever we kids troubled her with our dessert pangs ! Today is again one of those days when i crave for 'Maa ke haath ka halwa' but alas! Plight of a married daughter. She has to manage her cravings on her own! 

Determined to savor some warm traditional winter sweet, i stopped by my local grocery stop and grabbed some carrots. 45 minutes quick work from grating to plating, all was set! Gajar halwa is my husband's favorite too and i was happy to see the shine in his eyes when he smelt the aromas. One bite and he was blown away. Aaaah! I loved what i cooked and my cravings were certainly gratified, but yes, i am still waiting for my mum's version because that has to be nothing but DIVINE !
Ingredients:-

380 gms - Grated Carrots
380 gms - Full cream milk
100 gms - Sugar
2 tbsp - Ghee (Clarified butter)
1/2 tsp - Cardamom powder
3 tbsp - chopped almonds
3 tbsp - chopped cashews
4 tbsp - raisins

Steps to follow:-

1. Heat a wok and put some ghee.
2. Keep the flame low and add grated carrots. Saute them for 3-4 minutes on a low flame.
3. Add sugar and mix vigorously and till the sugar melts and caramelizes well. This will take 5-6 mins.
4. Now add milk and give a good stir !
5. Add cardamom powder and lid the pan for 7-10 mins on a low flame so that the carrots get cooked. Keep stirring intermittently. 

NOTE: You are recommended to use a non-stick wok/kadhai.

6. Unlid the pan and add the chopped nuts and raisins and now let the halwa cook on a low flame
7.  Halwa is ready, once the milk content has reduced fully and has become of khoya texture.
8. Serve hot with pistachios and almond slivers.

Variations:

1. You could also use heavy cream to get a more creamy khoya content. Reduce milk content to 250 gms and use 2 tbsp heavy cream (brand: Amul)
2. Instead of adding raw nuts you can pan roast the chopped nuts in 1/2 tsp ghee and then add to the halwa after is pan is unlid.
3. At times i also add 1/4 tsp rose water as it gives sweet fragrance to the dessert.