When you talk about Indian desserts or look at a restaurant menu to try a dessert you are sure to find Gajar Ka Halwa also known as ‘Gajrela’ listed.
It is a rich ( in an appeasing way) and luscious carrot pudding slow cooked with milk, ghee or clarified butter, some type of sweetener and an assortment of dry fruits.
This is an easy carrot halwa recipe that can be made in about 30 minutes with ingredients from any supermarket.
What Does Halwa Mean
If you are wondering what does the word ‘Halwa’ mean, then in simple words it is an Hindi term used to refer to an Indian dessert that mainly has a mushy pulpy texture.
Halwa can also be spelled as ‘Halva, Haluva or Halua’
In Indian cuisine there are various types of Halwa dishes.
You can make halwa with semolina, beetroot, pumpkin, moong lentils, white squash, almond flour to name just a few.
The process and ingredients used to make any halwa dish is more of less same. That is milk, sweetener, ghee and aromatic spices.
Carrot Ka Halwa Ingredients
You will find different versions of Gajrela recipe.
There are various ways to make an Indian carrot dessert. Few gajar halwa recipe will involve making:
- Carrot halwa with condensed milk.
- Carrot halwa with khoya ( An Indian dehydrated milk base)
- Carrot halwa with sugar
- Kesari gajar halwa ( carrot pudding with saffron)
This is an easy gajar halwa recipe made with readily available ingredients.
No need to go to an Indian grocery store for shopping.
Fresh or Pantry Items Needed
⇒ 6-7 large grated carrots
⇒ 1/2 cup milk
⇒ 100 gms of condensed milk
⇒ 20 gms or 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
⇒ 15 gms or 1/4 cup of raisins
⇒ 3 tablespoon of ghee
⇒ 1 tsp crushed cardamom or cardamom powder
Optional or Substitute Ingredients
⇒ For adding a hint of exotic touch add few saffron strands soaked in a teaspoon of milk while cooking gajar halwa.
⇒ Substitute condensed milk with brown sugar, white sugar or jaggery. (palm sugar)
⇒ Substitute ghee with unsalted melted butter.
⇒ You can choose any dry fruits of your choice such as cashew nuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, sultanas
NOTE – Read cooking tips section below for more substitute options.
How To Make Carrot Halwa (recipe with pictures)
This is easy gajar halwa recipe does not include any complicated cooking steps.
If you have made an old fashioned carrot pudding or even a Christmas pudding making this Indian carrot dessert is even easier.
Here is the step by step method to make gajar ka halwa for 4 people:
Grate carrots and leave them to drain in a large strainer for about 15-20 minutes.
Add them to a deep bottomed pan with lid. Add 1/2 cup milk, bring to boil with the lid on top reduce heat and cook until carrots are done and the milk evaporates.
Once the milk is almost evaporated and the carrots are soft and cooked, add the dry fruits and stir well.
NOTE – It is important to scrap the bottom of the pan to prevent the carrots from getting burned.
Once all the moisture is almost evaporated add condensed milk or your chosen sweetener and stir in well.
Next add ghee or your chosen substitute fat and continue to stir well scraping the bottom of the pan.
I like my pudding to stick a little to the bottom to give it a sticky toffee kind of texture so cook it for a little bit longer and allow it to stick to the bottom, but making sure it does not burn.
You need to do this on low heat.
You can choose to leave it creamy if you wish and skip the low cooking, sticking, scrapping method.
Lastly add cardamon powder and or saffron strands and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve.
Gajar ka Halwa is best served warm
Watch Gajar Halwa Recipe Video
Cooking Tips and FAQ’s
1.Choosing Carrots – The carrots you get in India are almost red in colour so the halwa comes out in bright orange. Tender fresh carrots make this carrot pudding delicious and fast to cook with a melt in the mouth texture. Old stale carrots tend to be fibrous and lend a different texture and taste to the dish.
You can choose red, orange or even black carrots to make this recipe
2. Grating The Carrots – Use the medium side of the grater to grate the carrots. You can also use a food processor for quick, hassle free grating. Too thin pieces will make the halwa mushy and too thick makes it chewy.
3. Draining the Carrots – Carrots can retain a certain amount of moisture in them. Grating them will bring out some water. It is a good idea to keep shredded carrots in a large strainer and drain excess water. You can also squeeze extra water out before adding it to the pot to cook with milk.
4. Cooking – Milk has a tendency to burn and stick to the bottom. It is best to cook on low heat and stirring , scraping the bottom of the pan at regular intervals. You need to keep an eye on the pot to prevent it from burning.
5. Choose Your Texture – Different people like the halwa in different type of textures. Some prefer the more creamy variety that is where the milk is thickened to creamy thick texture along with the carrots.
I like mine a bit sticky so I continue to cook on low flame using the stir, scrap and cook method. This gives a more drier texture.
6. Adding Extra Flavour – You can add saffron to the dessert for added flavour. Soak few strand of saffron in 2-3 tsp of milk for few minutes. Add it at the end along with cardamom powder. This type of Indian carrot pudding is called Kesar Gajar Halwa or Saffron Flavoured Carrot Dessert.
How to make vegan carrot halwa ?
⇒For a vegan version of gajar Ka halwa substitute milk with almond milk, oat milk or coconut milk.
Please do keep in mind that coconut milk will impart a different taste to the dish, that is it will become coconutty. Which is fine if you like the coconut taste.
⇒Substitute ghee with coconut oil or melted vegan butter
⇒ Substitute condensed milk with 3/4 cup brown sugar or 1/2 cup jaggery
How to make low – carb gajar halwa?
For a low carb version substitute the following:
⇒ Use sugar substitute like stevia or low carb fruit sugar
⇒ Use low cal milk instead of full fat
⇒ Use low calories unsalted melted butter instead of ghee
Different Ways to Make Gajar Halwa
You can make this gajar halwa recipe using different cookware.
I have used the pan cooking method for this recipe.
Below are few other cooking options for you:
How to Make It In Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot
Making this Indian carrot dessert in pressure cooker of instant pot is quicker and requires less milk.
Reduce the amount of milk used and cook on pressure for about 6 -8 minutes.
Release pressure and continue to follow the steps 3 to 5 above.
How to Make It In Microwave
To make this is the microwave you will need to use the take out, add, stir and put back in method.
The texture of Gajar Ka Halwa in microwave tends to be soft and thick.
To make it in the microwave, add grated carrots and milk in a microwavable bowl and cook on medium high for about 6-8 minutes.
Then add the ghee, dry fruits and cook again for another 5 minutes.
Add your chosen sweetener and ground cardamom and cook for further 6-7 minutes.
Mix well each time between the burst.
Cook until you see the ghee leave the sides of the bowl.