Halwa, or indeed halva and around a dozen or so other variations, seems to mean many things to many people. As Wikipedia states it can be be made of semolina, sesame, nuts, lentils or yams. However when I think of the Indian dessert halwa, I think of carrots. Carrot halwa is an unctuous and creamy mix of lightly spiced sweet carrot, fruit and nuts. I guess it's the Indian equivalent of carrot cake.
I was reminded recently that I've not had halwa for absolutely ages and as I had a large bag of carrots that needed to be used, this seemed the obvious solution. There are loads of recipes for carrot halwa with lots of variations on the exact ingredients, but the key ones are milk, sugar and carrots. This is what I've seen my mum using.
Recipe (easily enough for six):
1 kg carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp butter
Around 300ml full fat milk
Around 6 tbsp sugar
Around 6 cardamom pods, split to remove seeds
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
0.5 tbsp flaked almonds
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed or non-stick saucepan, and fry the carrots over a medium heat. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush in a pestle and mortar (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). After around 10 minutes add the milk, raisins and crushed cardamom, turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Once most of the milk has evaporated add the sugar and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so. Do taste at this stage and add more sugar if it's not sweet enough. If it's looking too dry or in danger of sticking to the saucepan add a little more milk. What you should have is a thick but moist mix of cardamom scented carrot. When you're happy with the taste stir in the nuts, saving some of the almonds to garnish if you want.
I like this served while it's still warm with some cream or ice cream, but it's perfectly nice at room temperature too.