Gajar-Ka-Halwa and Delhi winters are synonymous, in more sense than one. Start November, and fresh, red juicy carrots flood the vegetable markets. By December, the were the most prolific fresh produce you’d find for the next three months. This deluge of carrots also coincided with the festive and the marriage season back home. There just was no escaping this rich Indian fudge like sweet made with fresh grated carrots, milk, and loads of ghee.
Although it requires relatively few ingredients, the actual recipe varies from family to family. My mom’s style of cooking this popular North Indian dessert involved roasting the grated carrots with a humongous amount of pure ghee in a heavy bottomed karahi, till the moisture evaporates completely. Then she’d add whole milk and sugar and cook till the carrots were mushy and milk evaporated. Then she’d top off with khoya, nuts and raisins and crushed cardamom seeds. It was melt in your mouth delicious, but it also took a greater part of half- a- day from start to finish to get it done. Whenever I made it here in the US, I never got it right. First because I did not have any heavy-bottomed cast iron pots to cook it in- so the milk eventually, almost always, got stuck towards the end and gave me the burnt flavor. Second; for all my faux-health conscious issues, I always skimp on the ghee….and third, my patience usually lasts about 45 min or so. So if it don’t cook by then, I just assume it’s done :-)
To get around, I have tried and experimented with several suggestions from friends- the pressure cooker method, cooking the carrots with water first and many others. This week, I experimented with my slow cooker. One of the big warnings in slow cooker instruction book was to not open the cooker too many times - and that was my biggest motivation….
Gajar Ka Halwa
(in a slow cooker)
Carrots 1lb; grated
Half and half 400ml
Sugar 1 1/2 cups
Cardamom powder 1Tbsp
Raisins 1 handful
Put everything together in a slow cooker.
Cook on high for 10h.
Do not peek….:-)
Enjoy hot from the crockpot. * See notes below.
My two cents: The milk didn’t burn….I didn’t run back and forth checking on the progress….no stirring involved at all….and absolutely no ghee/butter. And yet, somehow, the slow-cooking possibly affects the taste- I really liked what I got at the end of it.
* That being said, yes I let the slow cooker run for almost 10 hrs. But there was still a bit of moisture from milk left in the pot. It wasn’t hopeless, but it was a lot more than my liking. So I ended up finishing it on the stove top on high for 5-7 min. to evaporate all the milk.
Will I do it again? Yes, I will. It came quite close to my mom’s in taste, albeit without the ghee. The recipe for the more traditional way of making Gajar Ka Halwa, is here.