Gajar Halwa is an Indian sweet dish that originates from Maharashtra state.
The dish has been around for centuries and it’s said to have originated in India when King Ganga Jogeshwara III, who ruled over the Konkan region (now known as Goa), married his daughter into the local royal family.
What Are The Ingredients In Gajar Halwa?
The main ingredient of this delicious dessert is the carrot which gives it its distinctive flavor.
There are other ingredients such as almonds, cashews, raisins, pistachios, coconut, cardamom, saffron, and rose water that go together to create a sweet treat.
This recipe uses fresh grated carrots along with dried dates, so if your dates aren’t very ripe or soft enough, use canned ones instead.
Other than these few basic ingredients, there are several spices used in making this popular Indian dessert.
Some of them include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cumin seeds, and ginger while some others include cardamom pods, fennel seeds, star anise, coriander seed, peppercorn, and bay leaves.
There are different ways of preparing this dessert depending on where you live.
In Western countries, people usually eat it at breakfast time but in India, it is more commonly eaten after dinner.
People also prepare gajar halwa using different types of nuts like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.
This recipe can be prepared either by steaming the mixture or baking it.
You can steam the mixture until it becomes thick then cool before serving or bake it until golden brown and serve hot.
If you prefer to bake it, you will need to preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
Spread out all the ingredients except the dates and leave it to dry overnight.
Bake it for about 30 minutes until it turns light brown and serves warm.
The next day, add the dates to the mix and pour it onto the lined cookie sheets.
Place it back in the oven and bake again for another 15-20 minutes until it turns dark brown.
Remove and let it cool completely before slicing.
When ready to serve, spread it evenly on plates and place sliced almonds on top.
If you want to make this dessert vegan, just omit the butter as well as milk and replace it with vegetable oil.
Also, you may substitute the dates with dried apricots.
How Do You Make Gajar Halwa?
The primary ingredient in this delicious dessert is carrots which are mixed with milk powder, butter or ghee, ground almonds, raisins, and cardamom seeds.
After mixing all of these together, they are left to soak overnight at room temperature so that the flavors can blend.
This process makes sure that there aren’t any lumps in your final product.
You then bring them back up to heat and cook until the mixture thickens.
This is where the magic happens!
Once the mixture starts to thicken, you add some sugar and stir until everything is evenly coated in caramelized sugar syrup.
You will also need to add some water to prevent sticking while stirring so be careful not to burn yourself on the stove.
Once the gajar halwa is done cooking, you pour it out onto a plate and let cool before serving.
What Is The History Of Gajar Halwa?
According to one legend, the king was invited by his new wife to her hometown where she introduced him to her mother-in-law.
In gratitude, he sent them a gift which included gajar halwa, along with other delicacies such as rice and sweets.
This story may not be true but it does explain how this delicious treat came about.
The first written record of gajar halwa dates back to 1570 CE, more than 500 years ago!
As well as being a great snack, the sweet is also used to flavor cakes and puddings.
Today, gajar halwa recipes are commonly found in cookbooks all over the world.
It can be eaten on its own or added to desserts and snacks like ice cream, cake, pudding, cookies, and even bread rolls.
Why Is Gajar Halwa So Popular?
The popularity of this dish comes down to its versatility.
You can make gajar halwa using any kind of fruit you want, but it’s most commonly used with carrots.
Its creamy texture makes it great paired with almost anything, like cream cheese or ice cream for example.
There are even some people who prefer eating gajar halwa by itself!
Another reason why gajar halwa is such a favorite among Indians is because it’s easy to make.
All you need is a food processor and your ingredients.
If you don’t own one yet, there are plenty of affordable options out there on Amazon, including this KitchenAid Food Processor Stand Mixer – which I personally love!
This mixer will allow you to grind nuts and seeds without much effort at all.
In fact, if you use this model, you won’t need to buy a nut grinder either, since the mixer does everything for you.
So how do you go about making gajar halwa? Well, here’s what you should know.
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup chopped almonds
- ½ cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter melted & cooled slightly
- 3-4 Tbsp whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
How Many Calories Are In Gajar Halwa?
The calorie count of gajar halwa depends on how you make the dish.
A typical serving size usually consists of 3 tablespoons of ghee or butter, 1/3 cup of curds, 2 cups of grated carrots, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 cup water.
According to nutrition experts, the total number of calories per portion comes out to be 280 calories.
This means one serving would provide your body with enough energy to burn about 10% of its daily calories for four hours.
A single scoop of ice cream contains more than 300 calories, which means you can easily consume half a bowl of gajar halwa without even knowing it!
That being said, if you want to lose weight, try not eating this dish every day. Instead, opt for healthier options like carrot cake or fruit smoothies instead.
Is Gajar Halwa Healthy?
The basic ingredients of this traditional Indian dessert are all wholesome foods.
There are no harmful chemicals or preservatives used in making this delicious treat.
However, there may be some controversy about the quality of the ghee that you use to make this dessert.
Some believe that using low-grade, off-brand ghee can cause food poisoning issues later on.
If you choose not to buy ghee, you can always substitute with melted butter instead.
Alternatively, if you want to try your hand at home, you could also make your own homemade ghee!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Gajar Halwa?
Gajar Halwa is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B1, B6, and folate.
This makes it beneficial for your overall health, especially if you consume this dish regularly or on special occasions like Diwali.
Carrots provide antioxidant compounds including beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, alpha-tocopherol, and zeaxanthin.
These substances help protect you against cancer by reducing inflammation caused by free radicals.
These antioxidants can also reduce your risk for cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, diabetes, and stroke.
The vitamin content in Gajar Halwa includes Vitamin A, which contributes to good vision and bone growth. Vitamins B1 and B6 are essential nutrients needed for energy production.
They support normal blood cell function.
B12 helps prevent nerve damage while folic acid promotes brain development and protects babies from birth defects.
Folate is important for preventing neural tube defects in newborns.
Folate deficiency may lead to spina bifida and other problems in children.
Babies born with low levels of folate have more than twice the risk for developing mental retardation compared to those whose mothers had adequate amounts of folate during pregnancy.
A diet high in folate helps keep your baby’s brain growing properly.
You should try eating at least 400 micrograms of folate per day through fortified foods or supplements.
This mineral keeps iron absorption efficient and prevents anemia.
Iron deficiencies cause fatigue and weakness because they decrease oxygen supply to body tissues.
Lack of iron leads to poor immune system functioning, making it harder for your body to fight infections.
You need about 18 milligrams of iron each day to maintain a healthy hemoglobin concentration (the amount of red blood cells).
Anemic people usually get their iron from food sources such as meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
If you don’t eat enough iron-rich foods, take a multivitamin supplement containing 15 mg of elemental iron daily.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about taking a prenatal vitamin instead.
What Are Some Gajar Halwa Recipes?
There are many different types of gajar halwa recipes but most of them fall under two categories – simple or complex.
Simple gajar halwa recipes include dry ingredients like flour, cornflour, rice flour, semolina, etc. which get mixed with water and then cooked until they form a thick paste.
These are often flavored with cardamom powder, saffron, pistachio nuts, almonds, cashews, raisins, rose petals, and other dried fruits.
Complex gajar halwa recipes use ground up vegetables such as carrot, potato, pumpkin, squash, beetroot, etc.
In addition to these, there are also a lot of dairy products used in gajar halwa recipes including cream, butter, paneer cheese, and yogurt.
Milk is generally added at the end to create a smooth texture and to prevent lumps forming.
How Can I Make Gajar Halwa More Healthy?
Traditional gajar halwa is made using suji rice flour or besan flour which contains less amount of carbohydrates than normal white flour.
This makes it ideal if you want to lose weight.
However, if you don’t mind eating carbs, then you can use regular white flour instead.
But be warned, this will increase your glycemic index significantly so watch out!
The next step towards making gajar halwa healthier is replacing the refined sugar (white sugar) with natural brown sugar.
You should also try reducing the quantity of ghee used in the dish.
If you really want to go all-out, replace them with organic coconut oil instead.
Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides which helps reduce belly fat.
If you are allergic to dairy products, you can substitute whey protein powder to add more nutrients to the recipe.
In addition, you could also use egg whites to thicken up the mixture instead of adding additional cream – this would give it a lighter texture while maintaining its sweetness.
1. How to make gajar halwa without refined sugar
- Ingredients: 1 cup milk, ½ cup shredded carrot, ¼ cup each powdered sugar, cardamom powder, saffron threads, 2 tablespoons butter or ghee, pinch of salt, and optional ingredients like chopped nuts, raisins, pistachios, etc.
- Method: Heat the ghee in a pot on low heat. Once melted, pour it onto the shredded carrots. Add the remaining ingredients except nuts, raisins, pistachio pieces. Mix well until everything becomes creamy. Then fold in nuts, raisins, and pistachio pieces.
2. Traditional gajar halwa recipe
- Ingredients: 1/4 cup whole milk, 1/4 cup water, 3 cups shredded carrots, 1 tablespoon ghee, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cardamom seeds, 1 teaspoon saffron strands, nutmeg powder, and pinch of salt.
- Method: Combine the first three ingredients in a pan and cook till they start boiling. Remove from heat and set aside. Next, mix together the fourth ingredient, sugar, and spices in another bowl. When the milk starts boiling again, bring it back to a boil and slowly stir in the spice mixture. Continue stirring till the liquid thickens.
- Cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Keep checking every now and then to see if it needs any further cooking time. After ten minutes, remove from stovetop and serve warm.
3. Healthy gajar halwa recipe
- Ingredients: 1/2 cup almond milk, ½ cup water, 1 cup shredded carrots, 5 ounces goat cheese, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder.
- Method: Bring the almond milk and water to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for five minutes. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep covered for at least 30 minutes before serving.
What Are Some Variations Of Gajar Halwa?
The original recipe is very simple but there are many different versions out there.
people add nuts or raisins while others use condensed milk instead of fresh cream.
For example, one version uses evaporated milk instead of regular milk, which makes this a great vegan option!
There are also several ways you can serve this delicious dessert.
You could put it on top of your favorite ice cream sundae or eat it straight off of a spoon like my friend did recently at her office holiday party.
This would be perfect for any special occasion because it will taste just as good cold as it does warm.
- 1 Pan
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup water
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom seeds
- 1 teaspoon saffron strands
- nutmeg powder
- pinch salt
- Combine the first three ingredients in a pan and cook till they start boiling. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Next, mix together the fourth ingredient, sugar, and spices in another bowl.
- When the milk starts boiling again, bring it back to a boil and slowly stir in the spice mixture.
- Continue stirring till the liquid thickens.
- Cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Keep checking every now and then to see if it needs any further cooking time. After ten minutes, remove from stovetop and serve warm.