Diwali is the only time in a year that makes me homesick. Homesick, not just for my family but for my homeland too! Diwali in India is same as Christmas in New York. There is something in the air that brings a lot of warmth and gives a feel-good vibe. Religiously, it might signify triumph of good over evil but personally, it brings a lot of hope and goodness to me. It just brightens every corner of my heart.
Everyone has fond memories of this festival and I have loads of them too. A few days prior to Diwali, our father would get a box full of crackers which would then be divided into all of us equally. Later, we were free to trade our not-so-favorite-crackers with the preferred ones, amongst each other. On Diwali day, we would dress up in our best clothes, do the Laxmi puja and then run over to our neighbors’ cum best friends’ house. We would light fire crackers at their place and then come back to our house, with them, to finish off ours. It was like a double bonanza for all of us!! Sometimes, it all feels just like yesterday and sometimes, eons ago!!
Gajar Halwa is one of my most favorite halwas. My mum would make it a couple of times every winter for all of us!! It is one of the few things that I love about winters. 🙂 Whenever I see a recipe of gajar halwa under the caption ‘gajar halwa in 10 minutes’ or ‘quick gajar halwa’, my ‘foodie-antenna’ goes up and I can hear alarm bells ringing in my head. The taste in this halwa, unlike other halwas, doesn’t come from ghee but from mava and the amount of time you cook it. If I had to eat just carrots, I would make carrot curry not halwa. Where ever I have eaten this halwa, I have felt either it lacked mava in it or it wasn’t cooked enough. Orange marmalade gives this halwa a unique and subtle citrus flavor that goes extremely well with carrots. Try this gajar halwa and see your family go back for seconds and thirds!
- 1 kg carrots
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup condense milk
- 275 gm grated mava
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 tbsp. Orange marmalade
- 1/4 cup cashews
- pistachios to garnish
- 2 generous pinch of cardamom powder
- Peel the skin off of carrots and grate them.
- Put it all in pressure cooker with water and let it cook up to 1-2 whistle on medium high flame.
- Turn off the heat and let the pressure go down.
- Open the cooker and transfer the carrots with the water to a thick-bottomed wok.
- Cook till all the water evaporates.
- Add condense milk and cashews and cook again till all of the liquid evaporates.
- Add grated mava and cardamom powder and cook it till the raw smell goes away. (about 35-40 min)
- If it gets difficult to manage, you can cook it in microwave at this point. Just make sure to take it out and give it a stir from time to time.
- Add heavy cream and orange marmalade and cook till it evaporates too.
- Once you see the halwa extremely dry, (no droplets or bubbles of water on the edges of wok.) turn off the stove, dish it out, garnish with pistachios and enjoy it hot.
One sign that halwa is done is that even though it might not ooze out ghee, you will feel a shine on and around it and at the bottom of wok. It will be quite subtle, but will be there. That's the time you can be sure that mava and carrots have cooked to perfection.
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