Gajar Halwa, Carrot Halwa or Gajrela is a north Indian sweet dish. It is traditionally made by cooking freshly grated carrots, milk and sugar together. Today we are making halwa the quicker way by using condensed milk and khoya (milk solids) along with some milk.
You can make homemade Condensed Milk and khoya if you don't have them in your pantry. Or if you wish you can also use full fat milk and sugar instead.
This is one of those highly customizable Indian Desserts that everyone loves! Do checkout more Easy Dessert recipes on the blog.
My method takes so much effort out of your hands. It cuts simmering time and the halwa tastes just as delicious! You will only need 15-20 minutes of active cooking time to create this mouth-watering delicacy this way!
How to make Carrot Halwa?
Prepping the Carrots: We will begin by washing, peeling and then grating the carrots. You can grate carrots using a box grater or food processor. Just remember not to grate them super fine.
This can lead the carrots to lose their texture while cooking. It can further make your halwa mushy to taste.
- STEP 1. Soften the Carrots by sautéing them with ghee: In a heavy bottomed pan, melt a tablespoon of ghee. Cook grated carrots in it for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- STEP 2. Carrots will get slightly soft and their moisture will get evaporated. Carrots will also change their color and get lighter. (Picture no. 3) Nothing to worry here, that's normal!
- STEP 3. Adding Dairy Products: Now add condensed milk, khoya and a cup of milk. This addition will thin the halwa out.
- STEP 4. Allow the Halwa to Thicken: Mix and cook everything stirring often on medium flame till the halwa thickens. This should take about 10-11 minutes.
- STEP 5. Add spices and nuts of choice: Next goes in cardamon powder, saffron (I like to crush them using mortar and pestle), and nuts of your choice. I used cashew halves, raisins, slivered almonds and pistachios.
- STEP 6. Roast in Ghee: Finally roast halwa in 2 tablespoons of ghee for 2-3 minutes and serve hot.
- Use Tender and Juicy Carrots: Halwa made with good quality carrots tastes just the best. Try to go with red carrots. If they are seasonal where you live, you can make halwa with orange carrots too. Just select medium sized ones.
- Grate carrots with grater: Grate carrots using the side with medium/big holes. Don't use the side with small holes. It will make the halwa way too mushy during the process of cooking. For the same reason, I don't like to use food processor. But if you opt for it, don't over grate/fine grate them.
- Scaling this recipe: You can easily half or double this recipe. Just half/double the amount of all ingredients. Process would be the same. But remember doubling this recipe will increase the cooking time too. It will still be quicker than making halwa traditionally with milk and sugar.
- Kind of Pan to use: In my home my mom uses a steel wok like a pro to make halwa. While it needs attention and stirring, irrespective of the pan that you use. I find halwa is more susceptible to stick in stainless steel pans. So I use ceramic pan for this. You need a pan with heavy bottom. Even a non-stick pan can be used here.
- Quantity of Condensed milk/Sugar: The amount of sweetener required to make this halwa will depend on the sweetness of carrots. Also on your personal sweetness preference. Start with ⅔ cup condensed milk. You can add up to 1 cup of condensed milk for 1 kg carrots.
Carrots: Red carrots work best for halwa. Since they are juicier and bright red in color. But you can also use orange carrots if red ones aren't readily available to you.
Khoya/Mawa: Adding khoya in addition to milk reduces the cooking time of halwa considerably! Worry not, it will not affect the texture of carrots. Since we are also adding milk in addition to mawa, carrots will get sufficient time to cook. Add it without a second thought. Khoya will also make the halwa rich and luxurious.
Condensed Milk: Adding condensed milk is such a fantastic idea to sweeten this dish and reduce cooking time. Adding sugar makes halwa liquidy and it will take more time to reduce it.
Cardamom Powder: About ¾ teaspoon of ground cardamom flavors this halwa so well.
Saffron: In addition to cardamom, adding saffron to this halwa makes it taste so good! It also gives halwa a deeper color. Don't skip it!
Clarified Butter (Ghee): We will use ghee twice in cooking the halwa. Once while softening the carrots to begin with. Then in the last when halwa is almost ready. Roasting carrots for 2-3 minutes in ghee enhances its flavor and brings out that beautiful red color.
Halwa of Carrot can be made in several ways. If you aren't pressed on time, you can opt for traditional way of cooking it. But for times when you crave an instant Indian Dessert, halwa can also be made in an Instant Pot.
Halwa with milk and sugar: It's the traditional method of preparing halwa. Cook 1 kg of grated carrots in 1-1.25 liters of milk and around 250 gms of sugar. Cook it stirring constantly till the halwa mixture gets reduced. Add cardamom, saffron (if using) and nuts. Give halwa a final roast in 4 tablespoons of ghee and enjoy!
- 1 Kg grated Carrots
- 1-1.25 liters of Milk (4-5 Cups)
- 250 gms Sugar (1.25 Cups)
- ¾ teaspoon Cardamom and few Saffron strands
- 3-4 Tablespoon Nuts of choice (chopped)
- ¼ Cup Ghee (Clarified Butter)
Sugar can be adjusted as per your preference. If you prefer sweeter halwa you can add up to 300 gms (1.5 cups) of sugar. This method of cooking halwa takes the most time to prepare. You may also add ¼-1/2 cup khoya towards the end. It will make halwa very rich and delish.
Halwa in instant pot: This is a super quick method to make a quick dessert that tastes just as good as the real deal. With minimum effort and less stirrings, Halwa in IP is ready in under 15 minutes.
You will require:
- 500 gms Grated Carrots
- 1.5 Cups Whole Milk (375 ml)
- ½ Cup Sugar (100 gms) or as per preference
- ¼ Cup Ghee
- ½ teaspoon Cardamom Powder
- Few strands of saffron
- 1-3 Tablespoon Nuts of choice
To make halwa in instant pot, add carrots, milk, ghee and sugar in steel insert of your IP. Give it all a quick stir and seal it with the lid. Next position valve to sealing and pressure cook halwa on high for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes have passed, IP will beep. Now lift the pressure valve and opt for a quick pressure release (QPR). When all the pressure has released, open lid and give the mix a quick stir.
Press cancel and then press sauté button. Set the time to 5 to 8 minutes on normal mode.
Halwa will now start bubbling. Continue to stir until all the milk evaporates. Add spices (cardamom and saffron) and nuts. Serve warm.
Halwa with khoya: If you are pressed on time, this is also relatively quicker version to prepare halwa. This version tastes so good too! Simply saute carrots in ghee for a few minutes.
Now add crumbled khoya and give it a quick mix. Add sugar next and cook halwa till thickened. Stir often and never leave the pan unattended. Add cardamom, saffron and nuts. Serve warm!
- 1 Kg Carrots
- 250-270 gms Khoya (Around 1.5 Cups)
- 250 gms Sugar (1.25 Cups)
- Cardamom, Saffron, nuts of choice
- ¼ Cup Ghee (Clarified Butter)
More Carrot Desserts you will love
You can enjoy this halwa for 10-12 days, when stored tightly sealed in refrigerator. It tastes good served cold too. Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream for a fun twist. If you wish to serve it hot, reheat in microwave or on stove top before enjoying. Add a few tablespoons of milk if you find the halwa has dried a little in the fridge.
It's called as "Carrot Pudding" wherein "Gajar" stands for "Carrot" and "Halwa" means "Pudding".
Traditional halwa is made with whole milk, sugar, some fragrant spices and grated carrots. It involves hours of cooking. While shortcut halwa ingredients include Grated carrots, khoya and condensed milk.
Gajar Halwa Recipe
- 1 Box Grater/Food Processor with grating blade
- 1 Heavy Bottomed Pan
- 1 Spatula (to stir)
- 1 Kg Carrots (About 14-15 medium Carrots)
- ⅔-1 (200-300 gms) Cup Condensed Milk
- 1 (200 gms) Cup Khoya/Mava (Evaporated milk solids)
- 1 Cup Whole Milk
- 3 Tablespoons Ghee (Clarified Butter)
- ¾ teaspoon Cardamom powder (freshly ground)
- ¼ teaspoon Saffron Strands (or a very generous pinch)
- ¼ Cup Nuts of choice (I used Cashew halves, raisins and slivered Almonds and Pistachios)
Prepping the Carrots:
- Begin by washing, peeling and then grating the carrots. You can grate carrots using a box grater or food processor. Just remember not to grate them super fine. This can lead the carrots to lose their texture while cooking. It will make your halwa mushy to taste.
Saute Carrots in Ghee:
- In a heavy bottomed pan kept on medium-high heat, melt a tablespoon of ghee. Cook grated carrots in it for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
- Carrots at this stage will get slightly soft and their moisture will get evaporated. Carrots will also change their color and get lighter. Nothing to worry here, that's normal!
Add Condensed Milk, Khoya and Milk:
- Now add ⅔ cup condensed milk, 1 cup khoya and a cup of milk to the pan. Mix and cook everything stirring often on medium flame till the halwa thickens. At this point don't leave the pan alone and keep stirring. As abandoning the pan can scorch the halwa from bottom and give it burnt taste.
- Cook till most of the moisture is absorbed and carrots get tender. This should take about 11-12 minutes. Now taste test and add a little more condensed milk if you find it less sweet. You can add up to ⅓ cup more.
Add Spices and Nuts:
- Next goes in cardamon powder, saffron (I like to crush them fresh in mortar pestle), and nuts of your choice. Give Halwa a quick stir. I used cashew halves, raisins, slivered almonds and pistachios.
- Frying Nuts: You may also fry nuts first in some ghee if you wish. I did not, since I like them soft in my halwa rather than toasty!)
Roast Halwa in Ghee:
- Finally roast halwa in 2 tablespoons of ghee for 2-3 minutes. This will also bring out the color of Halwa. Serve warm!