Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vegan Gajar Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

I am so sorry! I feel like I have been disconnected from you for days. Sometimes life gets so busy that I have no time to read all of the other blogger's blogs that I adore, let alone take photographs of the food that I am making, type up the recipes and blog about it. I hope you will bear with me during this busy time in my life.

Today I want to blog about something that I have been working on for a while: Carrot Halwa. It's a delicious dessert that you might find at an Indian restaurant, but it would be full of butter or oil, milk and sugar. Not so with my version, which I think tastes better to boot!

"It is difficult to translate 'Halwa' into English. A halwa is a sweet/ confection that is made from different kinds of grains/ flours or vegetables and contains sugar/ jaggery, ghee, lots of dried fruit and nuts and sometimes milk. The consistency of halwa can vary from dry and crumbly, through sticky to fudgy and thick enough to be cut into bars.

So the word halwa would conjure up different pictures in different peoples’ minds. Considering the widespread presence of various types of halwa (also halva or halvah) in the countries of the Middle East, and even Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Albania to mention a few, I think it is reasonable to assume that this confection arrived in the Indian subcontinent along with the invaders/ traders from Persia.

Halwas are also made from broken wheat, wheat flour, all purpose flour, lentils/ gram, nuts and vegetables."  My Diverse Kitchen

"Vegetables" you say?

Well, I'm interested!

Gajar (Carrot) Halwa also known as "gajrala" is a traditional Punjabi dessert made with carrots and milk. 
Gajar Halwa is made with lots of butter or oil, cow's milk and loads of white sugar. In my no-oil Vegan version, I've taken all that out. The results are a delicious, sweet, creamy dessert that you don't have to feel guilty about. Gajar Halwa is delicious warm or cold.

Do you love rice pudding? If you are like me, and you've gone all Plant-strong or even Nutritarian in the last few years, you probably haven't enjoyed this classic treat in a while. Today I'm here to tell you that we've got options. Plant-strong options!

Vegan Gajar (Carrot) Halwa
serves 4

Print me!

1 pound peeled carrots, shredded
3 cups unsweetened almond (or other alternative) milk
8 cardamom pods
5 Tbsp date paste (or 4 soaked dates)
1/4 cup cashews, soaked

Soak dates in water if you do not have or make date paste.

Soak cashews in water.

Place shredded carrots, almond milk and cardamom pods in a large pot and bring to a boil. Uncover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 45 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and evaporated.

In a blender or food processor, blend date paste (or soaked dates with some of their soaking liquid) and soaked cashews (soaking liquid removed).

When carrots are finished cooking, stir date/cashew blend into carrots. Remove from heat and serve warm, at room temperature or even cold.

How to make date paste:
Soak as many dates as you would like in water. I put them in a deli container with a lid and let them sit in the refrigerator for hours. Drain off and reserve the soaking liquid. Place dates and a little of the soaking liquid in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and consistent, adding soaking water if necessary.

Date paste will last in your refrigerator for weeks, and can be used as a replacement for sweetener in a recipe.

Have you ever had a Halwa? How about Carrot Halwa? Did you like it? 
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