Say winter, say halwa, and the first one that comes to mind is Gajar Halwa. Sweet and juicy carrots, all in their seasonal vibrant colour, are best for Gajar Halwa. If you can get these sort of carrots, then the result is a guaranteed success.
Gajar Halwa can be made the traditional way in the kadai or if you please, also very quickly in the pressure cooker. Here is how:
Traditional Gajar Halwa:
Heat ¼ cup pure ghee in a thick-bottomed pan; add 8-10 medium grated carrots and sauté for five minutes. Add 1 cup milk and ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder and cook over medium heat for five to six minutes or until the milk evaporates and the carrots are cooked. Stir in 1 cup grated khoya and 1 cup sugar and cook, stirring continuously, for two to three minutes, or till the sugar melts. Add 2 tablespoons raisins and 8-10cashew nuts and continue to cook for two more minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Quick Gajar Halwa:
Add 7-8 grated carrots and 4 tablespoons sugar in a pressure cooker. Add a little water, close the lid and cook till 2 whistles. Allow the cooker to cool completely and open lid. Add 3 tablespoons ghee, 1 cup grated khoya and ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder. Mix well, cook for 3-4 minutes or till moisture dries up completely. Add 10-12 sliced almonds and 10-12 sliced pistachios and mix well. Serve hot.
For variety try these too.
Peel 500 grams gourd, scrape out the seeds. Grate it finely. Heat 3 cups milk and reduce to around two cups. Heat 3-4 tablespoons pure ghee in a pan, add the grated gourd and sauté for five to seven minutes. Add reduced milk and cook, stirring continuously, till all the liquid content has evaporated. Add ¼ cup sugar, 10 chopped cashewnuts and 10 chopped pistachios and ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder. Cook till the sugar dissolves and the mixture is semi dry. Serve hot or cold.
Coarsely grind 15 chopped chickoos. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a non stick kadai, add 1 tablespoon each of chopped pistachios and almonds, chickoo paste, mix well and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add ½ cup sugar, 1 cup grated khoya, mix well, cook on low heat, stirring continuously for 5-6 minutes or till ghee separates. Add 1 cup milk, mix, cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serve hot or chilled garnished with 1 teaspoon almond slivers.
Would you like some more?
Try Aloo & Beetroot ka Halwa, Apple & Almond Halwa, Dry Fruit Oatmeal Halwa! But I repeat, east or west, Gajar Halwa is really the best!