Carrot Halwa or Gajar ka halwa, also known as Gajrela, is a carrot
It’s consistency is somewhere between a fudge and a pudding. It is made by slow cooking grated carrots with milk and sugar, flavored with cardamom and saffron.
Garnished with chopped almonds and cashews, this dish is the perfect comfort dessert for winters.
I have so many fond memories of my mom’s Carrot Halwa- it was simply amazing. My mom always made it on the stove-top, the traditional low-and-slow way. I was finally able to adapt her recipe to the Instant Pot 6qt, my programmable pressure cooker.
It reduces the cooking time and eliminates the initial stirring time, which to me, is a huge plus. To learn more about the instant pot, check out my Instant Pot FAQ and Accessories blog
Healthier & Faster Gajar ka Halwa
Traditionally, gajar ka halwa takes much longer on the stove-top, plus I have to baby-sit this dish the whole time. By using my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot, I cut that time in half, and I don’t have to stand by it for most of the cooking process.
The traditional recipe also calls for an equal amount of milk and carrots. You reduce the milk on slow heat, till it dries up, leaving behind the fudgy creamy milk solids, which add to the richness of the halwa.
The end result is divine, but it does take a fair amount of time, babysitting and muscle power:-)
By substituting most of that milk with dried milk powder, I am able to cut down on that active cooking time, without losing the texture and taste. Dare I mention, I used non-fat milk powder, so I saved a few calories too!
If you are looking for an even healthier twist, you can substitute half the dried milk powder with almond meal. Almond meal is available at most supermarkets and on Amazon too. But, if you cannot find it, simply grind whole almonds into a powder, using a spice or Coffee Bean Grinder.
Finger Food Variation
I make another variation of the gajar ka halwa, which is gajar burfi (carrot fudge). This burfi is cut into small pieces that can be eated as finger food. It is also a bit “fudgier” in consistency. Gajar burfi is ideal for big parties where guests can just grab and go.
More Indian desserts to enjoy
Here are some other Indian desserts that I love to make and my family really enjoys.
Sooji Sheera (Semolina Pudding)
Kesar Badam Halwa
10-Minute Coconut Laddoo
Easiest Besan Laddoo
Gajar Burfi (Carrot Fudge)
Deep Fried Gujiya
Kheer, Rice Pudding
Nankhatai (Almond Spice Cookies)
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Carrot Halwa or Gajar ka Halwa is a dessert from Punjab, in the Indian subcontinent. It's consistency is between a fudge and a pudding. It is made by slow cooking grated carrots with milk and sugar, flavored with cardamom and saffron and garnished with chopped almonds and cashews. A perfect comfort dessert for winters.
- 4 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter
- 6 cups carrots grated. About 5-6 large or 10-12 medium
- 1 cup milk microwaved for 2 mins (I use 2%, can use whole milk too, no fat-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron : optional
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups Nonfat Milk Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon green cardamom powder or about 6 pods, de-seeded and crushed
- 1/4 cup cashews and almonds chopped
- 1 tablespoon almonds chopped for garnish (optional)
Turn the instant pot on SAUTE mode, when it displays "hot", add ghee or butter. Add chopped nuts and carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes. This prevents the carrots from turning mushy later. Add warm milk, saffron and sugar, stir well. Adding warm milk ensures that the milk won't curdle under pressure, and, speeds up the pressure building time significantly. Close lid and cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 5 minutes. Set the valve to Sealing position.
Manually quick release pressure (QR) and open the lid after the pin drops. Turn on SAUTE (high). Add milk powder and stir. Cook off the liquid, stirring every few minutes. This takes around 10-15 minutes. The actual time depends on the quantity of carrots as well as your personal preference. For this quantity, it took me 12-13 minutes to reach my desired consistency.
- Add cardamom powder and stir. Garnish with chopped almonds (optional) Serve warm!