After my last two baking disasters, I figured I should post something that I know I'm good at cooking: gajjar ka halwa. It's a wonderful carrot pudding that my husband and I both love. We make it fairly regularly, and it was also served at our wedding in India, just swimming in ghee. I don't remember all the food from our wedding, but the gajjar ka halwa stands out in my mind.
You can make this recipe anywhere along the spectrum from low-fat and low-sugar (using skim or low-fat milk and less butter and sugar) to high-fat and high-sugar (whole milk, more butter or ghee, lots of sugar). V. thinks it tastes the best if it has a lot of sugar in it, so consider the 1 cup in the recipe as a jumping-off point.
Gajjar ka Halwa
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and shredded fine in the food processor
2/3 gallon whole milk (or enough to cover the carrots)
1 cup sugar (more if needed, to taste)
6 green cardamom pods
½ cup raisins
¼ cup assorted crushed nuts (cashews, pistachios, almonds)
generous pinch of saffron
3-4 tablespoons butter or ghee
In a large saucepan or large deep skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat, then add the shredded carrots and stir for a couple minutes. Pour in the milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the carrots become extremely tender and the milk has been mostly absorbed, at least an hour.
Remove the outside of the cardamom pods and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle, then add to the halwa. Add the sugar, raisins, nuts, and saffron. You can taste it at this point and see if it needs more sugar or cardamom. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes so the flavors can blend. Halwa tastes best if it is simmered on very low heat for 3-4 hours, time permitting, but you can serve it as soon as the milk is absorbed and it has a pudding-like consistency. Serve warm or cold—it tastes great either way!