I was pretty absent from my blog this past month. In between traveling back home to Pakistan to see my family, eating a lot of deliciously spicy Pakistani food, I had time only to snap some pictures for Instagram. I held myself to my promise and did not do any cooking back home except for a farewell pizza I just had to make for my dad the night before leaving Pakistan. Mostly I was out and about eating all the foods I had on my list. And my list was pretty long. The second day alone, I had my dad drive me to one of the busiest areas in Karachi, Burns Road, because I had a bad craving for kheer (rice pudding) that’s served in ceramics bowls. A few days later I would find out that a mithai store near my house carries that same kheer in the very same ceramic bowls. All I could think while scraping away at the last bits of kheer congealed to the ceramic bowl was that I really need to start learning to make Pakistani desserts.Kheer is one that requires patience and time. I have yet to replicate that flavor you get only from kheer in Pakistan. But what I have mastered, thanks to my aunt for showing me, the easiest Gajar (carrot) Halwa. Made with sweetened carrots cooked for a long time, Carrot halwa is one of the most popular Pakistani desserts. You’ll find heaps of it served at weddings. There was heaps of it at the wedding I attended during my visit!
Before deciding on this dessert for my blog, I asked my brother if he likes gajar ka halwa. He said no. But that no turned to yes and that yes to “Holy hell this is so good because I don’t even like gajar ka halwa!” Success.
I also realized that this is my first Pakistani dessert on my blog and definitely the right one to start with. It’s a crowd pleaser, amazingly delicious, aromatic and now with this recipe ridiculously simple to make.
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 lbs carrots grated
- t tsp cardamom powder
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- pinch of salt
- ¾ cup nuts (blanched almonds, sliced cashews and pistachios)
- Grate carrots on the smallest hole of the grater. Squeeze out the juice from the carrots with your hands. Discard the juice (drink up the juice).
- Heat up a skillet on medium flame and melt butter.
- Add grated carrots and sautee for five minutes.
- Add cardamom powder (freshly ground is best, but store-bought one is okay too).
- Let the carrots cook until soft, another 15 minutes. The color of the carrots will get dull.
- Pour in condensed milk and on low heat continue cooking for another 30 minutes. You can turn the flame up just a little bit. Be sure to frequently stir the carrots. After the condensed milk has completely evaporated, the carrots should appear sticky and dry. It may take anywhere from 30-40 minutes so keep an eye on the pan.
- At this point, add in the nuts. To blanch almonds, soak it in hot water for 5-10 minutes, peel the skin and slice them in slivers (or just use slivered almonds).
- Serve warm!
- This can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. To serve, just reheat in microwave for 15 seconds.