Gajar ka halwa is made of grated carrots slow cooked in milk and mixed with ghee, sugar, and cardamom – making this a super simple 5-ingredient recipe. This carrot pudding dessert is popular in India for any occasion!
Growing up, my mom was and is the QUEEN of Indian stovetop desserts – no baking necessary. In fact, most Indian desserts are cooked or fried stovetop. Now that I think about it, my mom only uses the oven for storage! She was recently inspired by me to start using it to roast vegetables haha.
Her gajar ka halwa is my absolute favorite. Gajar, meaning carrots in Hindi, are simmered for around 20-30 minutes with milk until it’s a pudding-like consistency, hence “halwa” which is a broad term for pudding-ish desserts. It’s served for just about any occasion in India and I have fond memories of eating it at the temple on Sundays.
FIVE SIMPLE INGREDIENTS
I was shocked at how easy it is to make halwa! I was FaceTiming my mom and honestly thought it would be way more complicated to make it. Admittedly, I’m frequently intimidated by Indian cooking. But it turns out that it takes five simple ingredients that you may already have on hand to make an incredible gajar ka halwa.
Carrots: I fully recommend shredding your own carrots so that you can get the proper size and prevent mushy halwa.
Milk/milk powder: The carrots soften in boiling milk to make the pudding-like texture.
- Ghee: By far my favorite golden ingredient for making desserts. Ghee is clarified butter and a fan favorite for Indians. One time, I opened my mom’s freezer and saw around 10-15lbs of butter. I was shaken, and my mom simply said “your dad likes ghee” HAHA. There’s really no similar vegan substitute, but you can use vegan butter.
- Sugar: To sweeten per your desire.
- Cardamom: Adds a sweet taste and aroma.
The base of the halwa is so so easy. You can also mix in nuts and raisins, which is incredibly common but optional.
TIPS TO MAKE GAJAR KA HALWA
- Use dark orange/red carrots: If you can find farm-fresh carrots that are a bit red, these are the perfect carrots to use for halwa. This is what lends a gorgeous color to the dessert, but can be hard to find outside of a farmer’s market.
- Shredded carrots: Don’t buy pre-shredded carrots if possible. You’ll want to shred them yourself with a grater, using the medium-sized holes. Too large, and the texture will be more like thickened mushy milk. Too small, and the halwa will be mushy and watery but just a slight notch up can result in halwa that melts in your mouth. You’ll also want to choose carrots that are less fibrous.
- Milk: I recommend whole milk, but have seen some aunties use sweetened condensed milk and omit the sugar. I’ve also seen a 50/50 mix of whole milk and heavy cream used to make it extra rich. You can also use coconut milk as a vegan version. The milk powder helps thicken the consistency of the halwa, but too much can also ruin the texture. If you’re unsure, omit the milk powder and use an extra quarter cup of milk. You may need to continue simmering for a longer period in this case.
- Milk-to-carrot ratio: This is so important, I cannot stress it enough! Having too much milk in your halwa will leave you with a weird thickened milk mushy texture at the end. You want just enough milk to cover the carrots and nothing more than that. Don’t be tempted to add more. If you get to this mushy state, simply add more shredded carrots and a quarter cup of water at a time until the carrots are tender.
- Checking the doneness: You’ll know when the halwa is done when the fat (in this case, the ghee) starts separating on the sides. The halwa will be thick and pudding-like, the carrots will slightly mush into each other, but the individual shreds of carrots will still be there.
- Don’t leave the halwa unattended. You don’t want the carrots to brown from the hot pan or burn the milk. Using a heavy bottom pan is preferred for simmering/boiling milk.
HOW TO STORE
You can store gajar ka halwa in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
MORE INDIAN-INSPIRED DESSERTS TO TRY
Gajar Ka Halwa
- Grate 4-5 carrots in the medium sized holes on a grater. Toss them into a large heavy-bottom pan on medium heat and immediately add the milk. Allow the milk to boil until the carrots are softened. Continuously mix the carrots so that the milk does not stick to the bottom.
- Once the carrots have softened, melt in the ghee and continue to allow the mixture to simmer and thicken. Once the carrots have darkened in color, slowly mix in the milk powder, which will thicken up the last of the remaining milk.
- Stir in the sugar and the cardamom powder towards the end of the cook time. The milk will be fully incorporated, and the carrots should be soft and darkened in color.
- Remove the halwa from heat, and stir in chopped almonds, pistachios, halved cashews, and golden raisins. Serve.