Sunday, 8 July 2012

Simply Sweet &Indian

"Halwa" di Carote & Cocco con Pistacchie
Carrot & Coconut Halwa with Pistacchio

This has to be one of my favorite desserts of all time- ridiculously simple and amazingly delicious! Incredible as it may sound- but completely true all the same, I first tried carrot halwa in Nashville, Tennessee of all places! After having enjoyed lunch at an Indian restaurant, experimenting with different dishes at the buffet table, I saw this, to my mind, exotic looking, orange colored dessert, of which I took a spoonful- just to see what it was. First and foremost I had no idea you could make a dessert like this out of carrots- and secondly- I had no idea it could taste so wonderful!

So I was hooked! I went back and got myself a full portion and thoroughly enjoyed it! And then went back for a last spoonful before leaving! I asked at the restaurant how it was made and didn't quite believe it could be so simple... so I looked it up online... and it really is! There are many slight variations on the same theme. This one here is one that I thought up- and I think you might just like it!

Basically, the method for making carrot halwa is very easy... it is simply grated carrot, which you cook down with milk and season with sugar and spice. That's it. You stir and stir and add milk as it evaporates away... kind-of like the method for making a risotto.

So for my version, to make the amount you can see here, which was enough for 2-3 servings, I used 3 carrots, which I grated finely. I put these into a dry frying pan and added a teaspoon of Stevia- yep- this is going to be one of those "healthy" recipes again- sorry! Carrots are so naturally sweet and full of sugar that they don't need much adding- feel free to use sugar or honey if you like when you make yours... whatever tastes good, IS good ;-)

After 2-3 minutes of stirring, the carrots will begin to change color a little and to give off a little juice. Once this happens, add a heaped teaspoon of cinnamon, a star anis and a cardamom pod, along with a good cupful of milk. Keep stirring constantly until the milk becomes incorporated and everything turns into a kind of paste.

You will need to continue stirring for 5-6 minutes, after which time you can add the coconut flakes. I added enough flakes to make the mixture into a drier more compact mass- this was in my case 2-3 tablespoons of coconut. Keep folding the mixture over, so that you expose as much surface area as possible and give the milk a chance to evaporate. After a further 4-5 minutes, add a squeeze of lemon juice and turn off the heat. Remove the cardamom pod and star anis and allow to cool... you are done!

I served mine with a few extra flakes of coconut, a little lemon zest and a sprinkle of pistacchio's. This may not be the authentic way, but it is fast, easy and delicious... and that is good enough for me! I hope that it is for you too!

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