Here is another seductive Indian dessert made with carrots and flavored with saffron, ground cardamom and blanched almonds.
Saffron (kesar/zafran) is the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus, and is certainly among the world’s most expensive and aromatic spices. Often used too lavishly, just a few threads are adequate to give excellent color and aroma to a dish of rice!
One pound of saffron consists of about 225,000-500,000 dried stigmas that are handpicked from 75,000 flowers. Saffron is cultivated for its large, scented, blue or lavender flowers. The valley of Kashmir used to be famous for its saffron fields, producing the most expensive variety of saffron. During the era of the Mughal emperors and Nawabs of Avadh, chickens and goats were fed saffron pills to produce the pleasant aroma of the spice in their flesh. Saffron has extraordinary medicinal, flavoring, and coloring properties.
Carrot Halwa (gajar ka halva)
½ teaspoon saffron threads
4¼ cups hot milk
3 pounds carrots
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground green cardamom seeds
¼ cup slivered blanched almonds
2 tablespoon unclarified butter (ghee)
Heat a small griddle over high heat and roast the saffron threads, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Remove and soak the threads in ¼ cup hot milk for 15 minutes.
Peel and grate the carrots. In a large saucepan, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the almonds and stir constantly until they change color to a golden brown. Add 4 cups of hot milk, sugar, and cardamom and boil for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the grated carrots and mix thoroughly, cooking for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture thickens and the carrots are glazed and sticky. Pour the saffron milk over the mixture and stir for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving dish. Serve warm or cold.
Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.