There is no substitute for it! There is no other sweet preparation in or around the city that comes even close to the flavor of blood red carrots, slowly cooked for hours.Yes, there are many commercial eateries that put-up this winter season treat for folks like me but honestly, the retailed version is never up to the mark. The variety prepared by my wife has been patiently cooked for hours, sometimes spread over a couple of days without taking the shortcut of adding condensed milk or excess khoya. The difference can be seen, and felt, in the first bite. Moha’s version of Gajar Halwa has that laidback smokiness to it.
We prefer not to add clarified butter or ghee, adding the maximum amount of full-cream milk. This has one downside, the cooking time is multiplied. However, the advantages outstrip this.The khoya-free version scores lesser calories but has an exponentially greater footprints in terms of the flavor, the texture and despite being reheated multiple times, it does not lose its native appeal – being sweet only to the extent of complimenting the carrot mix, a tad bit chew but without the biggest mistake most people make – the degree of roast. This highly patient approach creates a treat that no preparation in the market can match. The slightly crumbly texture when overheated adds another option that you can explore. This is how I can vaguely categorize and explain each layer of Moha’s Gajar Halwa [Indian Carrot Pudding]:
- Freshly prepared where the rich flavor of long-cooked milk is strong
- The second day variety where the milkiness succumbs to the carroty, crumbly feel
- Slightly microwaved version that creates an upper crust that is exotic
- The option of adding another layer of almonds to ensure more nutty flavor
- Cashews sprinkled heavily to create more crackly bites
- More raisins for that moist, cherry-like taste that contrasts the flavor
Updated on January 23, 2018: Second Batch this Winter - prepared the second batch this winter. 2018 has been good in a touch-wood, foodie sort of way. I took turns in ensuring the milk comprehensively covered the carrot shred. The halwa is rather perfect with generous sprinkling of almonds. Used some roasted cashews too. Texture is slightly dry - just the way I like it. Not the best type for those who want that gushy, gooey under-surface. No khoya and no cream or any milk fat added individually. We stuck to the basics of cooking the milk to the level that it becomes a residue of intense flavor and coats each bit of the halwa.
Updated on February 1, 2018: Intentionally Burning the Halwa - this might seem taking things to far for the sake of taste but am addicted to it. I have this habit of over-heating gajar halwa, from the time I was in school and there was always enough of the carrot-rich preparation in the fridge. I would heat it in a frying pan, ensuring small black spots started to develop. Then, I would leave the preparation for a few minute, allowing the last of vapors to pass away. These days, the tools have changed. My trade now employs the microwave. The setting is re-heating but I repeat it to ensure the top surface is slightly burnt. If you are more specific about how well the halwa should be roasted, churn it after every 0.30 second reheating cycle. Don't cover it or else the crust won't take shape.