Gajar Ka Halwa: The Perfect Autumnal Dessert For Diwali

Festivals in India are a sight to behold. These celebrations are some of the most popular events in the country, and although many people might prefer Holi, the festival of colors where participants throw colored powder on each other, most people opt for Diwali as the most important festival in India (via Asia Highlights). 

Diwali is a festival of lights that lasts for five days, and the main event of the festival is reserved for the third day of festivities. During these five festive days, people buy things for good luck, exchange gifts, light their lamps, set off fireworks, and eat tons of insanely delicious Indian food (via BBC Good Food). 

There are many traditional Diwali foods in India, so you can try tasty samosas or rice flour snacks called murukku, which is often served with tea. Sweets are also very appreciated for Diwali, such as rasgulla, consisting of chenna balls soaked in sugar syrup; batasha sugar drop candy; and rice kheer, a sweet rice pudding enriched with cardamom (via Times Of India). And one of the most popular Diwali sweet treats is made with an unusual ingredient – carrots.

Carrot halwa is made with grated carrots

Some compare this Indian sweet treat with carrot cake, and some say that it's much better. The dessert is called gajar ka halwa, or carrot halwa, and it's a staple during Diwali. It's traditionally made by stewing grated carrots in a mixture of milk, cardamom, and sugar. Gajar ka halwa is a perfect way to use carrots in autumn and winter, so you know what to do if you have some leftover carrots. 

In India, this buttery treat is typically made with a special variety of halwa carrots distinguished by deep red color and very sweet flavor, with no bitterness whatsoever. If you want another incentive to make carrot halwa, you'd be surprised to find out that it can be prepared in a single pot. All you need to do is stir until the ingredients are boiled into a creamy pudding. Additional ingredients are welcome, such as ghee, chopped nuts, and raisins, so feel free to elevate your carrot halwa according to personal preference (via Swasthi's Recipes). 

The Guardian revealed some tips to make the halwa even better, such as using jaggery or unrefined brown sugar instead of white sugar, which will impart "treacly notes" to the dessert. And besides cardamom, you can add cloves and nutmeg for even more flavor. What's most important is that the flavor of the carrots shines through – after all, gajar ka halwa is made for the festival of lights. Happy Diwali!