So guys, my post yesterday was about the celebrations of Holi, the festival of colors. Apart from the celebrations, theres also a religious context to it, which goes like this. Carrot halwa : One legend associated with the festival is that of Prahlad and Hiranyakshyap. According to this legend, there once was a powerful demon king by the name of Hiranyakshyap. This demon king resided in Multan, and was virtually indestructible, due to a boon granted to him by Brahma.
Hiranyakshyap grew arrogant, considered himself a god, and demanded everyone to worship him. His son, Prahlad, however, was a devotee of Vishnu, and refused to worship his father. As a result, Hiranyakshyap asked his sister, the demoness Holika (it is from her name that we get the word ‘Holi’), for her help to get rid of Prahlad. As Holika had received a boon that made her immune to fire, she went into a pyre with Prahlad on her lap, hoping that her nephew would be burnt alive. Prahlad’s devotion to Vishnu, however, saved him, and the demoness was burnt to death instead.
This story is one of the numerous legends associated with the ‘Holika Dahan’ (‘The Burning of Dahan.’) This is a practice that takes place on the eve of Holi, and is also known as the ‘Chhoti Holi’ (‘Small Holi.’) During the ‘Holika Dahan,’ bonfires are lit to commemorate the deliverance of Prahlad from his evil father and aunt. In many parts of India, an effigy of Holika is also burned on the fire. Thus, the ‘Holika Dahan’ is a reminder that good always triumphs over evil.
Another legend associated with the festival of Holi is that of Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu) and Radha (a gopi, meaning cow-herd girl.) In this story, the playful Krishna was extremely delighted in applying color on Radha and the other gopis. This prank later became a part of the Holi celebration. In addition, the festival is also a celebration the immortal love between Krishna and Radha. Hence, some have regarded the festival of Holi as nearest in spirit to St. Valentine’s Day. In Vrindavan and Mathura, two cities deeply affiliated with Krishna, the celebration of Holi is spread over a period of 16 days. This was just a peep to those of you who did know the relevance of holi. For me this was a preface to my dish of the day.
Every occasion around the world is incomplete without a sweet dish. In India, it is considered as a good omen to have sweets for every important mile stone of your life or for occasions, festivals or celebrations. There are many sweets/desserts which are served during holi. I have chosen the easiest one of the lot, Carrot Halwa aka Gajar ka Halwa. With simple ingredients, you can create a gourmet dessert.
Festivals and occasions are the times when you unceremoniously indulge in food ecstasy. As I always say, if you over indulge a couple of days, balance it by exercising a bit more, by keeping a fast or by strictly following a healthy diet. This halwa which I make is keeping intact the soul of the hero of this dish, Carrot. Traditionally, carrots are cooked in milk, which I’m not doing. Instead, I always add a small portion of cream/malai and condensed milk midway through, so that the taste and color of the carrots are retained maximum.
Zapping the carrots in microwave will extract the moisture content from the carrots as well as reduce that pungent flavor of the carrots, not to mention the cooking part. This will help in reducing the cooking time too. Saute the carrots in ghee till you starts to roasted aromatic smell of carrots with ghee. You will be able to feel the flavor, thats how I sense each part of cooking, am I crazy :). I have added each ingredient at fixed intervals so that each flavor, cardamom, saffron , orange blossom water, all get well infused with the carrots, they just get absorbed into carrot, the end product being, a heavenly rich halwa. Orange blossom water is an optional addition. You can omit it or go for rose water or elder flower or anything flavoring which you love.
The cream and condensed milk will balance all the flavors. I’ve taken very less quantity of raw sugar as carrots and condensed milk are sweet. I preferred to keep sweet on the lower side so that the combo of ice cream and halwa will attain a perfect balance and also for health reasons. So have a joyful, colorful Holi, with this simple but great sweet dish.
Wash, peel and grate the carrots
Soak the saffron in hot milk
Zap the carrots in microwave for couple of minutes
Heat a pan. Add ghee. Throw in the cooked carrots.
Stir fry on high flame till it becomes dry. Add ghee if needed.
Reduce the flame to medium, keep stirring till wilted and aromatic.
Add the cardamom powder and raw sugar. combine and continue to cook till it start changing its color slightly.
Pop in the condensed milk and cream. Integrate well. Keep stirring till it becomes sticky and start leaving the sides of the pan.
Add the saffron along with milk. Combine again till well blended. Cook further for 5 minutes so that saffron gets infused with the carrots
When the halwa is ready, add the orange blossom water and give a quick mix. Turn off the stove.
Serve hot with ice cream or transfer to the serving bowls. Garnish it with edible silver foil and nuts of your choice. You can also gift this to your friends and family by transferring it to gift packs or fancy containers and by decorating with the same above said.