Halwa, or halva, in India, is a thick, rich pudding made with vegetables and warming spices. This particular recipe uses carrots and apple. You can also use peeled, shredded winter squash in place of the carrots. The texture is somewhat like rice pudding, though not quite as creamy. To get a creamier texture, you can substitute some half and half or whole cream for some of the milk, though I think it’s quite creamy enough with whole milk. I don’t know how any non-dairy milk alternates would work here; if you make this halwa with one, let me know how it turned out, and I’ll amend the recipe.
oil, for the pot (coconut oil adds a nice accent)
1 quart (whole) milk
2 c (peeled) grated carrots or peeled, grated winter squash
1/4 c toasted, chopped almonds or other nuts
4 T (golden) raisins or other dried fruit
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cardamom, optional
1 medium apple, quartered and cored, then grated or finely chopped
3 T sugar or other sweetener, plus extra if preferred
1/2 t vanilla or almond extract; (for authenticity, use a splash of rose water)
1. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a large, steep-sided pot. Or, rinse the inside of the pot with cold water, drain, but do not dry. Pour milk into pot and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. When it comes to the boil, it may start to foam and threaten to overflow the pot. If this happens, whisk it vigorously until it subsides. Lower heat and cook the milk for 10 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to incorporate any milk solids that have formed.
2. Add the carrots, almonds, raisins, and spice(s). Cook for 20 – 25 minutes, until the milk has been absorbed and the mixture is quite thick. Stir in the apple. Add the 3 T of sugar, and stir until it has dissolved. Remove from heat. Taste the halwa and add more sugar if you think it’s needed (carrot is sweeter than squash, so if you used squash, you may want a bit more sugar). Stir in the vanilla.
3. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers, but bring to room temperature before eating.