Who doesn’t like a vegetable disguised as a dessert? Gulalai’s
Halwa (literally translated “sweets”) is light enough to serve during the spring or summer or would be an excellent alternative to traditional fall and winter desserts.
2 pounds baby carrots (organic or the brightest orange carrots available)
1/2 cup fresh whole almonds, with skins
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5-6 pods green cardamom (adjust according to taste)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
Pistachio nuts for garnish (optional)
Cook carrots over stove or in microwave until soft. Mash with a fork. Set aside.
Meanwhile, blanch almonds by placing in a bowl of boiled water, enough to just cover almonds. Soak for about 1 minute (too much longer and the almonds will lose their crispness). Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain
again. Pat dry, slip skins off, and halve. Set aside in bowl.
Heat oil in large wok or saucepan until it sizzles. Add cardamom. Make sure several pods are open to expose seeds. Lightly toast the cardamom, stirring to avoid sticking. Add carrot pulp. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring, until carrots reduce to about half of the original quantity and change to a darker orange color, about 15 – 20
minutes. Add sugar and allow to dissolve completely. Reduce heat to medium-low and add milk and almonds together. Cook for about 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until milk has been fully absorbed and the oil begins to separate from the solid ingredients. (Make sure not to overcook the halwa in this last stage or it won’t be as tasty.)
Transfer to serving bowl and top with pistachios for color contrast and extra crunch.
For a shortcut, use 1 (14-ounce) can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk as substitute for milk and sugar.
Gulalai prefers buying almonds (with skins) and blanching them herself for fresher taste.