The classic Indian dessert Gajar Halwa is made from carrots, milk, sugar and ghee!
It is one of the winter desserts par excellence, especially in northern India, rich and decadent.
Guys!!! After living in America for over 9 years, I finally found red carrots here! I can hardly believe it.
Remember how I cried for orange carrots when I made halwa carrots? Well, not anymore because I found the real thing! Seriously, I had over a pound of red carrots and even the cashier asked me what I could do with that many carrots. Lol.
That’s right, if you grew up in and around Delhi and ate halwa gajar made from red winter carrots, you will never be able to enjoy halwa made from orange carrots. It just doesn’t go together!
Red carrots are much sweeter, they have their own flavor and that makes them perfect for halva.
I remember always being served Gajar Halwa (or Gajrela, as it is also called in Punjab) when I was at someone’s house in winter. It was as if everyone in Delhi and surrounding areas did it at that time of the year.
At my home, making halva took several hours. First it was made from no less than 3 to 5 kilos of carrots, and then these carrots were boiled in milk until the milk was completely boiled down.
This process really took all day, I certainly didn’t do anything but eat it. But having done 3 kilos of halva the other day, I realize how much effort it takes.
I have always loved making halwa gajar at home, I have never been a fan of halwa made in mithai/candy stores. They were usually full of hoya (dry halwa) but always lacked the real flavor.
After my marriage, I also loved the halva my mother-in-law made. When I asked for the recipe, I found that my mother and mother-in-law prepared halva the same way. So here I am sharing the exact same recipe.
Although this halwa gajar recipe seems long and tedious, it’s worth it. Plus, you only do it once a year, so I think it’s worth it. There’s a lot of handiwork in this recipe, so it’s a good workout for the arms ;)!
However, if you are looking for an easier recipe, check out the instant halwa gajara halwa recipe I shared a while ago. It takes less time.
But if you have the time, I highly recommend doing it this way. It’s just the best!
How to make the perfect halwa ghajar
Use red roots. For people in India, this is obvious. You get good, fresh red winter carrots, and that’s what makes the best halwa.
I know red carrots are hard to come by, but go to the farmers market the last week of January. You might be able to find them. Please use red carrots for halwa if you can.
Stripping carrots by hand: I don’t like to use a food processor for halva. The food processor usually turns the carrots into a mush, which affects the final texture of the halva.
Rub with the hand that I have two sides, rub with the larger side (with the larger holes), you don’t want the roots to be very thick, and you don’t want them to be too thin either.
Use whole milk: For best results, cook whole milk. For this recipe, we first boil the milk down to half, then add the carrots and cook until all the milk has boiled down and dried up.
You can also use skim milk, but since it is low in fat, it does not contain enough solids and is not as tasty.
Don’t take shortcuts: I like to take shortcuts whenever possible, but for this halva that I make once a year, I like to stick to the traditional recipe.
I grate the carrots by hand and then cook them in milk until they have shrunk. Do not use condensed or evaporated milk to stop the process here for an authentic taste.
Roasting in ghee: The last part of roasting the halva in ghee adds a lot of flavor. It also gives the halva a nice sheen and makes it bright red.
So don’t miss this appointment.
Optional – add mawa/milk powder for richer taste: I don’t add any because my mother never added mawa to it so she made them at home. But adding hoya or milk powder would make it richer.
My mother told me that we only need 3 basic ingredients to make halwa gajar: red carrots, sugar and milk.
Everything else, including the ghee, was optional. I use ghee, nuts and cardamom to enhance the flavor, but my mother often made halva without ghee and it still tastes good.
Carrots: I can’t tell you how well gajara halva tolerates red carrots. I know you can’t find them in the United States (I was lucky this year), but if you can, you should try halva of red carrots.
You’ll never go back to oranges again, I can guarantee you that.
Milk: You need whole milk for this recipe. It makes the halva richer and adds more flavor.
If we boil the milk until there are no more solids, you should use whole milk, because it contains more fat.
For 1 kg of carrots, the amount of milk could be from 1 to 1.5 liters. The mother drank 1 liter and the mother-in-law 1.5 liters. There is not much difference between the two options, except that the 1.5 liter option produces more milk solids. They also taste the same.
I used white granulated sugar. Red carrots have a natural sweetness, so the amount of sugar can vary according to taste.
You can add 1 cup to 1.5 cups of sugar (200 to 300 grams) for 1 kg of carrots. It really depends on the taste, 200 grams on the light side, I prefer something in between.
Ghee: As I mentioned before, my mom made this halwa once without ghee and it was still very tasty. But ghee adds flavor and makes it tastier. I recommend adding ghee to the halwa and toasting it in ghee for a few minutes.
You can always reduce the amount and use very little, but use it. However, you can add a few tablespoons more if you want.
Cardamom: gives a wonderful aroma to halva. I like to grind fresh cardamom powder with my spice grinder, it’s much tastier.
However, you can also use store-bought cardamom powder.
Nuts and raisins: I always like my halwa with lots of nuts and raisins. But I know many people who don’t like them, so it’s optional. I like to add cashews, almonds and golden raisins.
You can add all or nothing, it’s completely optional.
Frequently asked questions
How many nuts can I use in a recipe?
If you like, you can add about 1/4 cup of crumbled hoi polloi/mava (or even more) to the halva in the last step.
Can I avoid the ghee?
I don’t recommend it. Use at least a tablespoon of ghee at the end, it adds flavor and that nice bright red color.
Can we do this in the Instant Pot?
This is not the same recipe, but I have another recipe for Instant Halwa Gajar Pot Gajar that you can try 🙂 .
How do you serve halva?
I like to eat this halwa warm, so I always heat it in the microwave before I serve it. But some people like it cold too.
You can serve it with vanilla ice cream on top, it’s so delicious!
Can this recipe be doubled?
Yes, I just doubled that recipe. Everything is doubled, including the time! Because there is a lot more milk, you have to double the time to reduce it. I made 3 pounds of halwa and it took me about 2.5 to 3 hours!
1- Peel the carrots and grate them with a hand grater (use the thicker side of the grater). Add the grated carrots to the pan and heat over medium-high heat.
2- Saute the carrots for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the moisture has dried. Note: We are not adding ghee or anything else here, we are just drying the carrots to remove the moisture.
You will notice that at this stage the color of the carrots changes from red to orange, which is normal. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
3- Put 1 liter of milk in a thick-bottomed pot. Use a thick-bottomed pot, otherwise you will have problems and the milk may burn. You can start boiling the milk next to it when you roast the carrots.
Heat the milk over medium heat, stirring frequently, and bring to a boil. Here I used 1.25 liters (1 250 ml) of milk for 1 kg of carrots, you can use between 1 and 1.5 liters.
4- Once the milk has come to a boil, turn the heat down low and let the milk reduce to half or a little more. Remember to stir very often, otherwise the milk may stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
5- Meanwhile, toast the cashews in 1 tablespoon of ghee until golden brown and set aside.
6- Return to the milk, after about 30-35 minutes the milk will be reduced to half (this is for 1-1.25 liters, for 1.5 liters it will take a little longer). Now add the grated carrots and stir. I like to scrape the sides of the pan (where the malai/sour milk sticks) and mix in the halva.
7… After this point, be very careful not to leave the halva unattended. Stir the halva frequently over medium heat and cook it until all the milk is absorbed by the halva and turns into dry milk.
You will see small particles of milk solids in the halva. This takes 10 to 20 minutes.
8- Now add the sugar.
9- Amount of sugar to taste, if you want it less sweet, add 1 cup (200 grams) of white granulated sugar, if you want it really sweet, add 1.5 cups (300 grams). I usually prefer an intermediate weight and add 250 grams.
10 As soon as you add the sugar, it melts and the halva becomes very liquid again.
11- Continue to cook the halwa, stirring constantly, until the sweet liquid is absorbed, which may take about 15 minutes. Yes, this recipe is a great workout! Don’t let the halwa dry out too much, as it will thicken as it cools.
Then add cardamom powder and 2 tablespoons of ghee (or more if you like) and roast for 3-4 minutes.
12… Add the nuts, then stir and it’s done.
Serve Gajar Halwa hot!
If you’ve tried this Gajar Halwa recipe, don’t forget to write it down! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see what’s new in my kitchen!
This post was updated from an archive of recipes first published in January 2015.
Ghajar Halwa is the ultimate Indian dessert, made from carrots, ghee, milk, sugar and spiced with cardamom. It is rich, creamy and decadent!
Cooking time 20 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total duration 2 hours
portions from 6
Calories 409 kcal
- 1 kilo grated red carrots, about 15-16 medium carrots
- 1.25 liter whole milk about 5 cups
- 3 tbsp ghee 45 ml, divided
- 1-1.5 cups white granulated sugar 200-300g, to be adjusted according to taste.
- 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped raw cashews
- Peel the carrots and grate them with a hand grater (use the thicker side of the grater). Put the grated carrots in a skillet and saute them on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the moisture has dried. Note: We are not adding ghee or anything similar here, we are just drying the carrots to remove the moisture. You will notice that the color of the carrots changes from red to orange at this stage, this is normal. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Put 1 liter of milk in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Use a saucepan with a thick bottom, otherwise you will have problems and the milk may burn. You can start this process by bringing the milk to a boil while frying the carrots. Heat the milk over medium heat, stirring frequently, and let it boil. Here I used 1.25 liters (1250 ml) of milk for 1 kg of carrots, you can use 1 to 1.5 liters. When the milk comes to a boil, turn down the heat and let it reduce to half or a little more. Remember to stir very often, otherwise the milk may stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- Meanwhile, toast the cashews in 1 tablespoon of ghee until golden brown and set aside.
- Back into the milk: After about 30-35 minutes, the milk will have reduced by half (this is true for 1-1.25 liters, for 1.5 liters it will take a little longer). Remember to stir the milk regularly during the reduction. Now add the grated carrots and stir. I like to scrape the sides of the pan (where the malai/thick milk sticks) and stir in the halwa.
- Now, after that moment, be very careful not to leave the halva unattended. Stir the halva frequently over a medium heat and cook it until all the milk has been absorbed by the halva and it has acquired a milky base. You will see small particles of milk solids in the halva. This will take 10 to 20 minutes.
- Now add the sugar. The amount of sugar is a matter of taste. If you like less sweet, add 1 cup (200 grams) of white granulated sugar, if you like very sweet, add 1.5 cups (300 grams). I usually prefer an intermediate weight and add 250 grams.
- As soon as you add the sugar, it melts and the halva becomes very liquid again.
- Let the halwa cook, stirring constantly, until the sweet liquid is absorbed, which may take about 15 minutes. Yes, this recipe is a great practice! Don’t let the halwa dry out too much, as it will thicken as it cools. Then add the cardamom powder and the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee (or more if you prefer) and let it toast for 3-4 minutes.
- Add nuts, give it a final bubble and that’s it. Serve the gajar halwa hot!
- You can add hoya or powdered milk at the end to make the halwa richer.
- In addition to cashews, you can add almonds and golden halva raisins.
Calories: 409kcalCarbon fat: 60g Protein: 9gFat: 16gSaturated fat: 9gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 206mgPotassium: 834mgFiber: 5gSugar: 52gVitamin A: 28181IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 293mgIron: 1mg
Frequently asked questions
Why did the halva root turn black?
Why is it sometimes black? Do not fry the gajar in ghee. It colors it and makes the halwa black. Put the carrots and milk in the pan and cook until the milk is absorbed.
Is Hajar Halwa good for weight loss?
First, ingredients like carrots, jaggery, ghee, cardamom powder used in gajar ka halwa, a low-calorie product, are not only good for your health but also for losing those extra pounds. For example, carrots are an excellent detoxifying food that contains properties that help cleanse the liver.
How many days does carrot top halva keep?
How many days can I store halva carrots without refrigeration? It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (14-15 days). Do not store at room temperature for more than 2 days. It will not stay fresh.
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