I have a strange relationship with expiry dates. I tend to forget about them until that moment of realization which leads to ‘mission expiry date check’. This is a mission in which you’ll find me combing through the medicine cabinet, my makeup stash, the spice cabinets and… you get the drift?
The latest ‘expiry check’ had me cleaning out my mega makeup collection – I was left with an eyeliner and lipstick each. The scene was no different in the kitchen. Empty bottles of spices were lined up on the platform like school children gearing up for morning assembly. The near-expiry carton of fresh cream and an undated packet of desiccated coconut were placed at the head of this assembly line – much like the overbearing class monitor and assembly in-charge.
In my mother’s world, desiccated coconut does not have an expiry date because she believes in buying less and fresh. I, on the other hand, tend to stash things into different bottles before forgetting about them for almost forever!
The packet of desiccated coconut was on the verge of falling victim to this forgetfulness – until Maa suggested I do something with the cream and coconut. She also said the magical word halva!
The end result was the nariyal gaajar ka halva (coconut and carrot halva) because if gaajar ka halva and narkel nadu (Bengali coconut confection) can taste like heaven, the two core ingredients together should taste equally superb, right?
Desiccated coconut is the grated, dried and unsweetened version of coconut meat, often used in making dal, desserts and curries. A pantry staple in several households, this variety of coconut meat also works as a substitute for freshly grated coconut – on its own or steamed till moist.
In case of my version of the coconut & carrot halva, I wanted to keep the cooking process simple and quick. So, I chose to use the desiccated coconut as it was. During the cooking process, I also realised that I rather like the chunkier version of this halva – which means reduced cooking time!
You can make this halva rich by substituting the fresh cream with condensed milk and/or khoya (Easy Homemade Khoya) and adding assorted nuts. And yes, you can replace the desiccated coconut with freshly grated coconut.
While I’ve opted not to tamper with the flavours further, feel free to add a pinch of cardamom powder to the hot halva. Best eaten warm – on its own or with some piping hot pooris!
Tips for the beginners
- For a stronger coconut flavour, substitute ghee with coconut oil.
- The use of jaggery is a conscious attempt to move away from refined sugar. But if you are hard-pressed to find jaggery, use unrefined sugar or even regular sugar. Adjust the amount of sugar to taste.
- Constant stirring is the key to the perfect halva so don’t leave the kitchen.
- If you want to make the halva a bit ‘redder’ or ‘orange’, add a drop or two of food colour. I don’t, but no one’s stopping you!
- If you intend to add nuts to the halva, I recommend doing it at least 5-10 minutes before you switch off the flame.
Carrot and desiccated coconut cooked with cream and jaggery for a dessert.
- 500 grams Carrots (grated)
- 100 grams Desiccated coconut
- 1 tablespoon Ghee
- 1 cup Fresh cream
- 1/3 cup Jaggery
- 1/4 cup Almonds (chopped)
Wash, peel and grate carrots. Set aside.
Add ghee in a kadhai/frying pan and allow it to melt.
Add grated carrot to the ghee, mix well and let it cook on low flame.
Sautee till the carrot is partially soft.
Add the desiccated coconut, mix well, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir frequently.
Pour in the cream and jaggery. Mix well and allow to cook for another 15 minutes or till the mixture has softened well.
Garnish with dried fruits and nuts and serve.
Want to try more Indian desserts? Check out the recipes of
Gaajar ka Kheer | Carrot & Milk Pudding
Mishti Doi | Bengali Sweet Yoghurt
Doi Boonde | Golden Sweet Balls with Yoghurt
Singhade ka halva | Water Chestnut Halva