This fudgy milk sweet with a deep chocolate colour is a delicacy from the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. It’s origins are lost in the mists of time. While some ascribe it to a local halwai in Almora, others say it came from Nepal in the 7th century A.D. and was modified by halwai Joga Lal Shah, who used milk from a particular village to make the khoya, the basis for the sweet.
This sweet needs constant attention during cooking. Prepare yourself before you start. Have a drink of water and keep your phone on silent. You can’t step away for even a second once you start cooking. Khoya burns easily and the dish will be completely spoilt.
Khoya 200 g
Sugar 3 tbsps
Sugar 1/2 cup
Water 1 1/2 cups
Ghee 1 tbsp
Sugar balls 2 cups
Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 1 1/2 cups water and boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat, but keep the sugar syrup bubbling.
In a heavy bottomed nonstick pan, take 1 tablespoon of ghee. Add the grated khoya and start stirring. Cook the khoya on low heat. The pictures show the way the khoya will change colour. Do not stop stirring and do not increase the heat.
When the khoya is a deep reddish brown and starts to leave oil, add 3 tablespoons of fine sugar. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
Add some of the bubbling sugar syrup.
The khoya will turn a deep chocolate colour as you continue to cook.
Keep adding the sugar syrup a little bit at a time till only about 1/4 cup remains.
When all the water is absorbed and the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan, transfer to a greased dish. To test if the sweet is ready, put some on a plate. If you are able to roll it off easily, it is ready.
When it is cool, cut into squares. Dip each square in the sugar syrup and roll it in the sugar balls to coat all sides.
The sweet can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
This sweet dish made from semolina flour, ghee or clarified butter, and sugar is a favourite with most people. Its richness is also why it is good for you. It helps protect you from the chilly winter cold. Ghee is also said to boost your immunity, protecting you amid the current pandemic.
Suji or semolina 1 cup
Sugar 1/2 cup
Ghee 5 tbsps
Cashew nuts 1/4 cup
Raisins 2 tbsps
Water 1 cup
Heat the ghee in a frying pan.
Add the semolina and fry on medium heat till it changes colour and the smell of roasting suji pervades the kitchen.
Add sugar and fry for a minute.
Add the water and stir till the water evaporates.
Fry the cashew nuts and raisins in 1 teaspoon of ghee and add to the halwa.
Cooking Carrot Halwa or Gajrela will fill your kitchen with the most comforting smells. The aroma of grated carrot boiling in milk takes me back to my childhood, my son’s childhood, and winters in Delhi. For a healthier version, I use less sugar and skimmed milk.
Carrot halwa is good to have in winter as the combination of sugar and ghee helps to prevent chills. Carrots are full of Vitamin C, which can help boost immunity, something that is immensely useful during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Boil it with the milk on low heat in a heavy bottomed pan. I used Mother Dairy Toned Milk as I wanted to make a lighter version. In Singapore and Australia, I used Paul’s Fresh Milk. In the UK, I preferred to use Ivy House Farm.
Once all the milk has evaporated, add the sugar. Keep stirring after adding the sugar so that the carrots do stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once all the liquid has been absorbed, add the ghee. This will give a lovely glaze to the halwa.