Carrot halwa is an Indian sweet dish made with carrots, milk, ghee, sugar and cardamom. Everything is simmered in a pan till the milk evaporates and the mixture becomes a thick carrot pudding with a strong milky taste. I made this recipe changing the quantities and omitting sugar and powdered milk to make a low-calorie halwa. The end result still contains 8 g of sugar per portion because of the carrots’ natural sugar. But that’s still lower than most healthy desserts made of fruits. That’s what I love about using veggies in dessert recipes: you can make things that look and taste like treats but have the nutritional values of sautéed vegetables.
This recipe may sound a bit too basic: one may think “well, it’s basically some cooked carrots with stevia”. I didn’t use cow milk and powdered milk and I used less ghee than in the original recipe: this ‘diet halwa’ is thus a lot less rich and creamy than a classic halwa. But the association of carrots, ghee and cardamom makes it special enough in my view (especially if you’re like me completely new to Indian cooking): the nutty taste of ghee goes very well with the carrots’ natural sweetness, and the exotic cardamom aroma adds some depth to the dish.
Ingredients for 2 servings:
– 4 cups grated carrots (I used about 10 long carrots. They were organic so I didn’t bother peeling them. Peeling carrots may make them look pretty but generally I find it unnecessary.)
– 1 tbsp ghee
– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 1 tsp ground cardamon (around 10 cardamom pods)
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 to 3 tbsp Swerve (to taste)
– optional: other spices of your choices: cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cumin (to give the halwa a brighter color)
Melt the ghee in a wide sauté pan (the pan should be large to be able to cook the carrots quicker). Add carrots. Once the carrots look half cooked, add the milk.
For best results, this dessert has to be cooked low and slow, on a low flame stirring occasionally, but if you don’t have the time that’s perfectly okay to do everything on medium heat. We’re not looking for the traditional carrot halwa end-result anyway with this easy ‘diet version’ of the dessert. The idea is to cook the carrots until they’re completely tender and start looking slightly mushy. The 4 cups of grated carrots shrink to around 2.5 cups of halwa. Add cardamon, vanilla, Swerve. I prefer eating it when it’s still warm, but it can be served hot or cold.
I garnished it with a bit of shredded coconut because that’s what I had on hand but the traditional recipe uses dried fruits and nuts (cashews, pistachios and raisins).
Nutrition fact for 1 cup carrot halwa (without the tbsp of garnish of shredded coconut): 144 kcal, 2 g protein, 19.6 g carbs, 8.4 g sugar, 6.5 g fat, 5.2 g fiber.