Making Indian desserts can be a bit time consuming but they aren’t complicated and don’t require special skills or equipment. They are however, totally worth it.
The milk-based varieties are notoriously rich and make an elegant dinner party sweetmeat; a lovely alternative to the ubiquitous slab of American pie or cake. They will also pique people’s curiosity leading to lively conversation, in the event you’re running out of things to talk about.
I love the idea of making a sticky-sweet dessert out of a vegetable. Carrot Halva is dense and rich-tasting, as the slow cooking process concentrates the natural sweetness of the carrots.
The only effort required is your willingness to stir the contents of the pan every now and then, for up to an hour.
This is a delicious, fragrant pudding that’s best served warm or at room temperature, topped with a blob of crème fraîche.
CARROT HALVA (Adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe)
1lb (450g) of organic carrots, washed and trimmed (buy them ready-washed in a bag)
1 1/4 pints (700ml) of full fat milk
8 whole green cardamom pods, very slightly cracked open
5 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter), coconut or canola oil
5 tablespoons of fine white sugar
2 tablespoons of golden raisins or sultanas
1 heaped tablespoon of pine nuts, lightly toasted
A good pinch of saffron
crème fraîche or clotted cream to serve (optional)
Pulse the carrots in a food processor until very finely chopped. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the milk, saffron, cardamom and carrots and bring the mixture to a boil.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until all the liquid has evaporated. This will take 40-60 minutes.
Once all the liquid has boiled off, heat the oil over medium heat in a separate non-stick pan. Transfer the carrot mixture to the pan and stir fry until it becomes a rich, deep orange color, about 5 minutes.
Add the sugar, raisins and pine nuts and continue to stir-fry for a couple of minutes until everything is well combined and the sugar has dissolved.
Once the sugar has completely melted, divide the halva between 4 small dishes or bowls and shape it into small mounds.
Allow it to cool slightly if serving it warm, or to room temperature. Just before serving, top the halva with a dollop of crème fraîche, heavy cream or clotted cream.