Gajar Ka Halva (Carrot Pudding) recipes?
I did a google search and came up with quite a few recipes, all of which seemed quite different -- different ingredients, different preparation methods, etc.
Does anyone have a version they swear by? Is there a "classic" or "standard" version of this dish?
Authentic Gajar Ka Halva recipes from India vary just like authentic cornbread recipes vary here in the U.S. depending on whether you ask a yankee or southerner. There are at least two kinds that I know of for sure - there may be many more. One is the more milky kind that my mom made and generally people from Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh might. The other is the Punjabi(called Gajreyla) or North Indian version with little or no milk. I'll let some Punjabi or Uttar Pradeshi provide you with an authentic Gajreyla recipe. Here is my mom's version. Sorry, I don't have exact measurements. In any case, how much milk and sugar you add only determines how milky and sweet tasting the result will be and that is subjective. I like my halwa with plenty of milk solids in it.
Scrub a couple of pounds of fresh sweet carrots thoroughly to remove dirt. Grate coarsely. Melt 2 tbsps butter or ghee in a wide, preferably nonstick, pan. Add the grated carrots and saute them on medium heat until they soften and wilt a little - say about 5 minutes. Then add enough whole milk to completely cover the carrots. If that was 4 cups of milk, then I would add a cup of half and half. Set the heat to medium and keep stirring the mixture often, as it reduces. The goal is to cook the carrots in milk and reduce the carrot flavored milk until it is slightly thinner than ricotta. Some moistness is desirable but mostly you want juicy carrots and milk solids. Next, add sugar to taste. I would start with 3/4 cup and then adjust to taste in 1/4 cup increments. After you add sugar, the consistency will get thinner. Continue cooking until the consistency is back to what it was before you added sugar. A few minutes before the halva is done, add powdered green cardamom seeds from 8 whole pods. You could coarsely grind them in a mortar, or pulse in a spice/coffee grinder with 2 tsps of sugar. You could also add a large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
Slivered pistashios or blanched almonds make a great garnish. Serve warm with hot puris or chilled on it's own. Another excellent combo is to serve piping hot halva with a scoop of vanilla or cardamom icecream. Yum!
I've made this every now and then, working from a similar recipe in the old Penguin book, Indian Cookery by Dharamjit Singh. Essentially it is grated carrots cooked to death in milk, and sweetened to taste :-) The Singh version includes cinnamon (stick cooked with the carrots at the start), cardomom, saffron, honey and raisins, with a final touch of almonds and rose water.