When Christianna had taken me into the Recipe Swap group (read more about the group here), one of the things she said in our initial correspondence was that she was excited to get an Indian perspective for the swap recipes. While all my swaps have not been with an Indian twist, I thought with the Indian festival season here, I would give this time’s recipe swap an Indian twist.

When I saw the swap recipe (for a carrot pie), my initial plan was to make this carrot souffle I saw in a magazine I had just bought. But then I am not much of a fan of pureed carrots. It reminds me of baby food, and even though the recipe sounded interesting, I wasn’t sure I would truly enjoy it.

So I thought of making something Indian. Now, I am not a big fan of Indian sweets. I like them but most of them I find too sweet. If I want something sweet I generally prefer a baked good over the traditional sweets. Though I don’t mind a piece of gulab jamun, or hot atte ka halwa now and then. And sometimes gajar ka halwa too makes the privileged list.

Gajar ka halwa (or Indian carrot pudding) is a dessert of creamy, thickened milk with softened carrots contrasting with the added crunch of nuts. Milk and grated carrots are cooked until they become a dryish homogeneous mass, and then cooked with a little clarified butter (or ghee) and sugar and subtly flavored with cardamom powder and sometimes saffron strands to make absolute deliciousness.

Like most Indian desserts (or desserts in general for that matter) it is a rich dish. The ghee adds to the richness and believe me the more there is in it, the better it tastes. You can of course reduce the amount of ghee. I used a little more than I generally would, just because I was making enough for one serving each and really wanted that one serving to be the best. And just to make you feel less guilty about adding it in the dish, ghee is known to be an Ayurvedic ingredient which helps in anti-aging and digestion. 🙂 And if that isn’t enough, carrots are loaded with Vitamin A and are a very good source of fiber, and vitamins C and K. Milk adds some calcium and protein to this dish. So do the cashews.

You can make more complicated versions of this recipe, and they will definitely taste as good. But I fell back to my mom and used her recipe. It’s easy, uncomplicated and does not require any ingredients that are not already there in your pantry or in your local grocery store. My grandmother uses khoya in the recipe, which is nothing but slow reduced milk. In India you can get fresh khoa from the market, but in the past it’s contents have been questionable and reports of it being adulterated have made people generally steer away from it. My mother just reduces the milk with the carrots itself and since that eliminates any possibility of adulteration, I prefer her method.  Also since I personally don’t like raisins, even though lot of recipes feature them I opted to leave them out. Instead I used a few grated cashews in the dish. You can use roasted cashews as well.

This is also a perfect dish for Diwali, the festival of lights which is also celebrated as the Hindu New Year. On Diwali people decorate their house with flowers, lights and candles/diyas. They offer prayer to the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi. Family and friends share sweets during the celebration of Diwali and burst crackers,though now to discourage noise pollution and smoke there are fewer people each year bursting crackers.

5.0 from 2 reviews
November Recipe Swap
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This makes two very generous servings of halwa. Since it is rich, it can be shared between 3 people, but if you are hungry then maybe not.
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: Indian, gluten free, vegetarian, eggless
Serves: 2-3
  • 225 gms grated carrot (the weight is after grating the carrots)
  • 250 ml milk
  • 1-2 tbsp melted ghee (you could even add 2-3 tbsp- it will be richer, and tastier as well)
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup sugar (I used a little more than ¼ cup and found the sweetness perfect- but adjust sweetness according to how you like)
  • 5-6 cashews (soaked for 15 minutes)
  • a pinch ground cardamom
  • few roasted cashews, for garnish
  1. Grate the carrots. In a pan (preferably non stick) big enough (make sure it is a big saucepan as the milk does boil and froth over a lot), add the milk and grated carrot and cook on medium heat till all the milk evaporates, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in between. If you double the quantity, it will take longer for the milk to evaporate.
  2. Add the melted ghee and cook 3-5 minutes till the ghee separates.
  3. Add the sugar (about ¼ cup to ½ cup) and cook for another 5 minutes, till the sugar melts and the mix dries up.
  4. Take the soaked cashews and grate them in the mixture. Add the cardamom powder, mix and remove from heat.
  5. Garnish with a few roasted cashews.

17 Thoughts on “November Recipe Swap

  1. I love Indian sweets, and carrot halwa looks so good. Perfect for the holidays coming up…
    indugetscooking recently posted..Chole BhatureMy Profile

  2. Mom always knows best :-). I enjoyed learning of this Indian sweet treat, thanks for sharing. Beautiful photos as well.

  3. Gajjar ka halwa is a part of every childs winter memories, i remember Ma making it and i would sniff my way to the kitchen on getting home.But she would keep it as an evening snack after i would get back home from playing..
    its time i create these memories.thanks !!
    sulagna recently posted..The Motherhood SongMy Profile

  4. I love your little ramekins, and, of course, that gorgeous carrot color looks fantastic in them too! Halwa sounds like a pretty simple dessert and I love the flavors going into yours – coconut, cashews, and carrots go so well together.
    Really great swap!

  5. I grew up eating my grandmother’s fantastic gajar halwa. It makes me a bit sad that I’ve never made it but your lovely pictures have convinced me it’s time to change that 🙂

  6. I love how simple and doable the recipe is and I’m definitely thinking of adding it to my list of things to prepare during Diwali. The carrot-grating is the only part of it I don’t enjoy but well….necessary pain for a whole lot of eating pleasure! 🙂 I dont miss khoa at all.

  7. Gajar ka Halwa tops the list of my “comfort foods” – I feel its relatively easy to make compared to other Indian sweets so I prepare it quite often 🙂
    As always , loved your pics 🙂
    Keya recently posted..San Francisco (Week three post one)My Profile

  8. First time here…You have awesome photographs..Moved around in here seeing them.. and carrot halwa is one of my faves…Love them warm with vanilla ice cream…
    Funwidfud recently posted..Chickpea MasalaMy Profile

  9. What a great take on a carrot cake! It must be deliciously creamy!
    PolaM recently posted..#RecipeSwap: carrot quicheMy Profile

  10. travel on 9 November, 2012 at 4:35 am said:

    think that is the best article thet i have read
    travel recently posted..I’m starting here…My Profile

  11. I almost went this direction as well with this month’s swap! This looks absolutely gorgeous, so bright and festive for Diwali. A great interpretation of the original recipe! (… and welcome to the group!)
    Sara @ The Cozy Herbivore recently posted..Ginger Carrot CurdMy Profile

  12. I can’t wait to try this recipe! I LOVE gajar halwa and I thought it would be a great dessert to make for Easter dinner (a change from the predictable carrot cake). Hope it goes well!! haha

  13. Mark on 24 May, 2013 at 4:10 am said:

    I’m wondering how good this would be if made with cream instead of milk… mm… fighting valiantly! MUST. STAY. ON. DIET. lol

  14. Akshata on 2 December, 2013 at 9:28 pm said:

    Its a nyc option to prepare the halwa without Khoya….i will definitely try it….thanks for such a simple and easy recipe

  15. nikita on 20 March, 2015 at 1:09 am said:

    its ausome i am a teenager and i love cooking so i am gonna start with dis recipe thanks a lot i dint even have khoya aftr searching i got ur website anyway thanks a lot 🙂 🙂

  16. Pingback: Besan Ke Ladoo and Round up of Diwali Desserts - The Novice Housewife

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