Guest Post by Prerna of Indian Simmer
For many of us who celebrate the festival, the word Diwali is a synonym for joy and celebration! On this day, Hindus all across the world celebrate the victory of good over evil. It is believed that, after spending years in exile and after defeating evil Ravana, the Hindu god Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, came back home. To welcome him, his whole kingdom was decorated with lamps.
Ever since that day, Lord Rama’s return has been celebrated as Diwali. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated with an evening full of fireworks and lighted clay lamps called diyas.
I have many fond memories of Diwali growing up. We would wake up in the morning to the smell of lentil dumplings (called Vada) being fried in the kitchen. We could also hear the sound of water splashing in the aangan (backyard) which would be prepped for the Diwali Pooja (prayers) to be performed in the evening. The menu would include dahi vada (the fried lentil dumplings served with spiced yogurt) and boondi laddoos, a sweet dish made with chickpea clusters, gulab jamuns and chola masala, served with hot puffed poori.
The sun would slowly set and the house would start to fill up with relatives and friends. Everyone would be dressed in the best possible attire and all you could hear would be an endless echo of laughter. The whole house would smell of marigold flowers and diyas could be seen lighting up all the streets in town.
I have not met a single Indian or an Indian food lover who doesn’t like the dish called Gajar Halwa. My mother-in-law probably makes the best halwa in the world! Like a few of my mom’s and my mother-in-law’s recipes, Gajar Halwa is something which I had to try making quite a few times until I could get to the exact taste.
When the lovely people at Little Passports asked me to make something for Diwali, I thought it would only be appropriate if I made Gajar Halwa. So let me have you enjoy the recipe while I’m enjoying a warm bowl here in this cold weather.
- 1 pound grated carrot
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 7 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup of any nuts (I used almond flakes and cashews)
- Heat a large pan, add ghee and fry the nuts in it. As soon as they are a little brown, take them out and set aside.
- Now add the grated carrots into the pan with the remaining ghee. Cook it for a minute and then add milk.
- Mix it well, turn down the heat to low and let it simmer until the carrots are half cooked. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Now add condensed milk and stir it all well together. (I personally don't like anything very sweet so if I find my carrots sweet enough after adding sweetened condensed milk then I don't add any more sugar, but if you like it sweet then go ahead and add sugar now.)
- By this time the milk should have completely evaporated. Now stir the mix every couple of minutes, scratching the sides and bottom if anything's sticking. Let it cook until the carrots are done.
- You will notice that the carrots will change color and get darker. When there's no extra liquid seeping out (except some oil/ghee) that's when your halwa is cooked.
- Add the nuts.
- Turn the heat off and try not to cover it for a while.
- Serve warm.
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