Carrot Halwa Pumpkins
Posted on October 5, 2014 by Viji
Why is it always “Trick OR Treat” and never “Trick AND Treat?” Well, that is what these pumpkins are all about; made using one of the most famous desserts of India, “Carrot Halwa,” and made to look just like little pumpkins. Perfect for Halloween; a wonderful dessert for the Thanksgiving dinner too!
The flavor, the green cardamom and saffron add is beyond any words can explain. The voice of my very dear friend, though it was many years ago she said it to me, still resonates in my head, “hot, hot carrot halwa with vanilla ice cream.” Yes, that is the perfect way to enjoy this delicious dessert.
- 6 cups finely grated carrots – loosely packed
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
- 5-6 green cardamoms
- A large pinch of saffron soaked in half cup of hot milk
- A few pistachios for garnishing
In a heavy bottomed flat pan, kept on medium heat , add 1-2 tablespoons of ghee. Add the grated carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes stirring quite often making sure it doesn’t get burnt. By this time most of the water from the carrot would have evaporated ; now reduce the heat to low, wait for a couple of minutes and very gently, add the milk. Bring the heat back to medium. Cook till the carrots turn soft, stirring often. When most of the milk has disppeared, add the sugar and the saffron soaked in the hot milk, and continue to cook stirring all the while till the mixture starts to get thick. Now add the remaining ghee and continue to cook on low till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the fire. Powder the cardamom seeds and add. Garnish with chopped or sliced pistachios.
Note: You can always add more sugar if you like it sweeter. You can add more ghee too if you prefer. Stored in refrigerator, carrot halwa stays good for 3-4 days.
Here’s the fun part: Making pumpkins
Keep the halwa in the refrigerator for a day; that makes it easy to work with.
We collected 6 very small pumpkins, removed the stems, and cut opened vertically two of them (of two different sizes). We cleaned the inside very well and made them absolutely dry; cut through the grooves outside the pumpkin shells so that later we could use it to mark roughly on the pumpkins. Then, we covered the inside with plastic wrap. We filled it with the halwa and kept the shells back together to form a full pumpkin. Using a thin and sharp knife, we made the impressions of the groves onto the halwa inside. This was just to get a rough idea. Then very carefully we removed the pumpkin shells and the plastic wrap. With gentle touch closed the gap at the bottom, shaped it better, and using ‘wooden tongs’ made the groves more visible. Attached a stem. Ta-da… here’s the pumpkin! We made 8 small pumpkins using this much of halwa.
Note: To retain the shape, you can freeze or refrigerate them in an airtight container; make sure to avoid any moisture getting in. Handle very gently while keeping them in and taking them out.
Now the best part…
Carrot Halwa tastes yummy, cold or warm. If you like it warm, microwave for a few seconds just before serving. And for the ice cream, plain vanilla is perfect. When it comes to ice cream, I can’t stop talking about this perfect ice cream shop we have within walking distance from our home where we get the best ice cream. It is a beautiful house in the old, charming town of Cranbury, minutes close to the “Princeton University Campus,” and two small windows serve as the counters. You get such wonderful flavors in any size; the best being the “kiddie cones”. So anybody visiting this part of the world, never miss it, and one more thing – they are only open from April Fools’ Day till the night of Halloween. And if anybody wonders, “If that’s so good, why don’t they make it in the list, Ice Cream Places to Visit Before you Die,” it is just that no one ever wants to die once they get to taste this ice cream!