carrot halwa

This is one of the most popular Indian desserts and a traditional dish for Diwali. Carrot halwa originated in the Punjab and features grated carrots, milk, sugar and nuts.

Diwali is the Hindu new year, also known as the festival of lights. It is the celebration of health, wealth, and prosperity in the hope of having a happy new year. 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.

Gajar ka halwa is a traditional sweet served at this time.

There are many types of halwa in Indian cuisine. Although we speak of Punjabi origin, this is an Arab dish, brought to India by the Mughals. It has now become ubiquitous throughout India and other places that originate from Indian heritage.

When cooking halwa the texture is important. Arab halwa is much drier and has a consistency closer to nougat. Indian halwa is moister, with the consistency of jam. You need to cook this a few times to get it right, because the dish will thicken after cooking, so be careful not to overcook.

Having said that, it is hard to get this dish wrong. The main things to remember are to be patient and to cook on a low heat.

Purists will argue about the use of condensed milk against boiling down full cream milk.  This recipe will produce a great halwa without hours of reduction of the milk.

How you present this dish will depend on the circumstances. You may garnish with cashews, pistachios, almonds, mint leaves or vark – edible silver leaf – or all the above. You may serve it as part of a thali, or as a dessert on its own.

This book will feature several different forms of halwa, using different base ingredients.

the recipe

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  • deep pot with lid


  • 6 tbsp ghee
  • 150 g raw cashews
  • 1.2 kg carrot - peeled and coarsely grated
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 125 g jaggery
  • 350 ml condensed milk


  • Heat the ghee in a thick-bottomed deep pot on medium heat. Add half of the cashews and fry until they take on a golden colour. This will only take a few minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the grated carrots to the ghee and mix well. Turn heat to low, cover pot, and cook, stirring often until they turn tender and are cooked, but not too coloured. This will take around 20 minutes, and the carrots should reduce to about to about half their original volume,
  • Whilst the carrots are cooking, remove the seeds from the cardamon pods and coarsely crush.
  • Coarsely chop the remaining raw cashews.
  • Once the carrots are ready, remove the lid and add the jaggery, ground cardamom seeds, and the chopped cashews. Mix well.
  • Add the condensed milk and stir well until combined. Simmer uncovered on low heat, stirring often, until the milk is absorbed and the halwa is adhering together. This will take around 35 to 40 minutes When cooked remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Ther halwa will noticeably thicken.

to serve

  • The halwa can be served hot, warm or cold. Garnish with the fried cashews to serve.

private notes

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Serving: 125 g | Calories: 509 kcal | Carbohydrates: 66 g | Protein: 10 g | Fat: 25 g | Saturated Fat: 12 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9 g | Cholesterol: 48 mg | Sodium: 178 mg | Potassium: 836 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 52 g | Vitamin A: 25210 IU | Vitamin C: 11 mg | Vitamin D: 0.1 µg | Calcium: 229 mg | Iron: 2 mg

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