I love Bugs Bunny and I love his favourite food. I always have. Maa often jokes that as a kid, one of the easiest ways to shut me up was to hand me a carrot – I would be too happy munching on the carrot.
Over years, the munching dwindled significantly but my love for carrots did not. The traditional Indian dessert gaajar ka halwa (carrot based sweet dessert) remains an all time favourite. But it’s not something I’ve endeavoured to learn yet because it takes a lot of time – a lot – to make. The amount of stirring it requires would probably equal a day’s arm workout. And I am not a fan of working out. Nope, not me!
So when my next-door neighbour, Meena Verma – who I adore and call Verma aunty – mentioned an easier and equally yummy way of enjoying a carrot dessert, I jumped at the opportunity to learn something new. This dessert is the gaajar ka kheer.
Traditionally, the kheer is a rice pudding made by boiling rice in milk and sweetened with sugar or jaggery. In this kheer we replace the rice with carrots.
Verma aunty learned this dish from a relative and has been making it for a couple of years now. “And everyone who has tasted it, loves it!” she said.
I can readily vouch for the loving it bit. The carrot kheer tastes delicious warm and chilled. I think I am going to make a batch of this kheer soon and freeze them into popsicles. If they taste good chilled, they should taste good frozen too, right?
Go ahead and try this simple, delectable recipe. Don’t forget to share/comment if you make it. And in case you upload photographs on Instagram/Facebook, don’t forget to tag From The Corner Table.
Gaajar ka kheer (Milk-based carrot dessert)
A healthy kheer - Indian milk-based dessert - made with carrots, this carrot kheer is easy to make and perfect round the year. Serve warm or chilled, this dessert will be a success, age no bar.
- 250 gms Carrot (grated)
- 2 1/2 cups Full fat milk
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1/4 cup Almonds
- 1 tsp Cardamom powder
- 3 Saffron strands
- 1/2 cup Nuts (roasted) optional
In a small bowl, soak the saffron strands in 1 tablespoon milk and set aside.
Pour the remaining milk in a big pan, add the grated carrots and set it on high flame. Stir at regular intervals and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to bubble for around 10 minutes until it thickens.
Blanch the almonds in hot water, peel, grind to a fine paste and set aside.
The next step can be tricky for a newbie like me but not for someone who knows their way around the kitchen. You need to blend the carrot and milk mixture once it has cooled down. I poured the milk-carrot mixture into a tall container – to avoid splattering – and used a hand blender.
You need to blend the mixture until
1 the entire mixture is like a carrot shake OR
2 the carrot is minced but you can feel the texture when you taste a spoonful.
There is no right or wrong to the consistency of the gaajar ka kheer; make it as per your preference.
Once done with the blending, pour the mix back into the pan and set it on a high flame. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and add the almond paste, saffron and cardamom powder.
Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the sugar. Cook for another 5 minutes and you are done!
Serve it warm or chilled, garnished with assorted roasted nuts or almond slivers.
- If you are not in a mood to grate the carrots, julienne it. After all, these carrots have to face the blender later and will be reduced to a pulp.
- Sugar does not allow a mixture to thicken. Hence it is added at the last stage, once the kheer has reached the desired consistency.
- For fellow beginners who are wondering about the ‘blanch almond’ bit. Fret not. Bring water to boil in a small pan, pour in the almonds and let them rest in the boiling water for a minute. Remove. Rinse in cold water. Gently peel. You’ve got your skinned almonds ready to use.
Photos: Gautam Chakravarty