Gajar Halwa: Indian Sweet Carrot “Pudding”

This post has been a long time coming.  I’ve started writing it (what seems like) a million times, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to finish…it just wasn’t happening.

The phone would ring.  A time sensitive email would show up in my inbox.  Piyush would want the laptop to practice Chess–he’s a competitive player, don’t ‘cha know? Dinner would need to be made.  Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

Yes, that is a room full of chess players.  Very serious stuff, I tell you.

Yes, that is a room full of chess players. Very serious stuff, I tell you.

I also wanted to apologize to any one and every one of my dear readers who have left me a comment or sent me an email or personal note–and I haven’t responded.  I’m extremely grateful for all the kind words and comments I’ve received lately.  I’m also so, so very sorry for my slow responses.  We’re leaving for India soon and I’ve had so many things to tie up before we leave, I promise It’s on my agenda. 😀

Anyway, tonight (it’s around 12:30am and I recently got home from work) I’m finally going to share with you one of my favorite Indian sweets!

restaurant style carrot halwa, indian desserts, gajar halwa, gajar ka halwa, indian sweets, carrot pudding, carrot dessertGajar Halwa!!!

I first tasted this magnificent treat on a dinner-date with Piyush, and it was love at first bite.

The next day I called Maa (my mother-in-law) in India and asked her how it was made.  I also asked Sukla (one of my co-workers–and the best Indian sweet maker in all of Rochester). I leafed through the pages of my Indian recipe books.

I took bits and pieces from each recipe and finally came up with a variation I was happy with, and I think you’ll be happy with it too!

Like a lot of Indian dishes, this recipe takes a little time and a whole lot of love.  I started by peeling and grating 2 pounds of carrots.  That’s a lot of work!

 Trust me, if you are tempted to skip the whole shredding-your-own-carrots thing and just buy the shredded carrots from the supermarket…don’t do it!  Your halwa won’t have any where near the flavor it should.  Those pre-grated carrots taste a little weird.

You might be able to blitz them in your food processor, though.  I was very tempted to try that (and will definitely try it next time), but Piyush is adamant (and maybe a little picky?!).  He told me, “That isn’t the way Gajar Halwa is made.  The carrots must be shredded!”

Next time he can shred the carrots.  😀



grated carrotsOnce the carrots were grated, I tossed some ghee into a large heavy-duty pan (I used a 12″ Chicken Fryer, which happens to be my favorite pan) and cooked them until they began to soften ever-so-slightly.

cooking carrots for gajar halwa In the meantime, while the carrots were cooking, I tossed the 1/2 and 1/2 and the saffron into a separate saucepan and brought it to a boil.  Once it began to boil, I lowered the heat to a gentle simmer.  This step isn’t entirely necessary, but it will cut down on the cooking time of the halwa by quite a bit.  I recommend doing it this way, for sure!

After the carrots have cooked a few minutes and they’ve begun to soak up the ghee, I tipped in the 1/2 and 1/2.

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I brought the mixture to a boil…

gajar halwa cooking

Then reduced it to a simmer.  At this point I also mixed in some freshly ground cardamom powder, mawa powder and sugar.  Yum!

mawa powder: available at most Indian grocers.

mawa powder: available at most Indian grocers.

gajar halwa cooking almost done

I allowed the halwa to continue cooking until the milk thickened and the carrots softened.  Then tossed in some nuts and dried fruits to finish the dish.  I used a combination of pistachios, cashew nuts, golden raisins and dried cranberries.

If you’re feeling really generous, you might even drizzle a little ghee over the finished halwa…just for good measure.

restaurant gajar halwa, halwa, gajar halwa, carrot halwa, carrot pudding, indian dessert, indian gajar halwa

I seriously love this stuff!

This halwa is delicious!  It’s thick, sweet and comforting.  You simply must try it!

Gajar Halwa (Indian Sweet Carrot Pudding) Recipe

(serves 4-8 depending on how much you feel like sharing!)

The halwa can be served either warmed or chilled.  Personally, I prefer mine slightly warmed.


  • 1/4 c. ghee (may sub. butter)
  • 2 lb. fresh carrots- peeled and grated
  • 1 quart (4 cups) 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1 small pinch saffron
  • 4 tbsp. Mawa Powder (available at most Indian grocers- may leave out if you can not find)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
  • nuts and dried fruits to garnish


  • Heat ghee in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium high heat.  Add grated carrots and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften or “fry.”
  • Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan add the 1/2 and 1/2 and the saffron.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Leave it aside until you’re ready to add to the carrot mixture.
  • Once the carrots are slightly softened, add the 1/2 and 1/2 to the carrots and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the mixture to a simmer and allow it to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  • Toss in the mawa powder, ground cardamom and the sugar.  Stir everything to combine.
  • Let the halwa cook until the milk thickens up and the mixture is no longer runny, then toss in some nuts and dried fruits to finish the dish.
  • Garnish with a drizzle of warm ghee and extra chopped nuts.  Enjoy!

17 thoughts on “Gajar Halwa: Indian Sweet Carrot “Pudding”

  1. discovering nature

    This looks really nice and I’m tempted to try to make it!
    I’m just wondering what 1/2 and 1/2 is. (I’m from Germany, that may explain my not knowing……. :-/ )

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello! I hope that you do try it, it’s so delicious! If you can’t find 1/2 and 1/2 you can substitute 2 cups whole milk and 2 cups cream.

      Hope that works for you and answers your question! Enjoy! 🙂

  2. Manju @ Manju's Eating Delights

    You know, i never knew we get Mawa powder at the Indian grocery store…hehe! I love your description on shredding the carrots…ya next time def Piyush can shred them..Lol! I’ve already decided to make my hubby do all the grating when I make Carrot Halwa 🙂

    1. Shari Post author


      Yes! The husbands can definitely shred the carrots! LOL

      I can easily find mawa powder here in Rochester, and I know it’s also available at Patel’s in Minneapolis.

  3. rsbggaa

    Thanks for sharing your recipes.  I have no connection to India and Indian food except a love for the country (afar – never been there) the culture (I have friends) and the never boring food.  Thanks again for sharing.  Have a wonderful time in India.


  4. Kitschyn

    I recently made this for a group of Slovenian friends. Slovenians add lots of sugar to their coffee and love sweet sugary cakes. Even their cream has added sugar. So I was high hopes that they would like carrot halwa but the dishes (small portions since it is sooo sweet) came back hardly touched. Either I had filled them up with the rest of the meal or it was just too sweet for them. Or maybe the carrot thing for dessert was just too weird for them. Personally I love it – but I skip the nuts because of my nut allergy.

    1. Shari Post author

      I’m so sorry your friends didn’t enjoy the gajar halwa. I think the idea of carrots in a dessert can be a little off putting at first, I know it would be difficult to get my family (a bunch of midwesterners who love their sweets) to try a spoonful–let alone a bowl full. Their loss. 😦

      I’m glad you enjoyed the halwa though, and I’m happy to hear you gave the recipe a go!

      Do you think cutting back on the sugar would have helped? I love to hear feedback like this, thank you!

  5. Todd

    Use your Vitamix to shred the carrots, dice onions & all sorts of vegetables. Both of these techniques are described in your Vitamix Getting Started Guide or in the recipe book that came with your Vitamix.

    Carrots can be done in one of two ways. Both methods use the regular wet blade container.
    1) Use the “Dry Chop” method:
    – in your wet blade container insert 4-5 carrots.
    – Set variable speed to the lowest speed -variable one.
    – turn on your Vitamix and process at variable speed 1.
    – Use your tamper stick if necessary.
    Tip: for a finer chop use variable speed 2 or 3.

    2) Use the Wet Chop method:
    – in your wet blade container insert 4-5 carrots.
    – fill your wet container half-way with tap water.
    – Set variable speed to 5.
    – Turn on your Vitamix and process at variable speed 5 for about 1.5 seconds & stop. Check the product to see if it is completely processed. If necessay process again for another second or two.
    – CAUTION: It is very easy to over process things using the Wet Chop Technique. Practice a few times & you’ll easily get the hang of it.

    You can find some of my recipes on my blog.

    Happy Vitamixing & thanks for the great recipes. I love your site.


  6. Neetu

    Even a normal food processor can do this job very easily… just use shredding disc of your food processor. Most of the food processors come with a chopping blade and a slicing and shredding disc. I have a black & decker one and always shred 2 lbs of carrots in less than 10 minutes :). Gajar Halwa is a staple delicacy in most Indian households and my family’s favorite dessert.

    1. Shari Post author

      Thanks for the tip, Neetu! I will definitely try using the processor next time. Shredding all those carrots by hand is just too much work! lol


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