Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shredded Carrot Halwa with Pistachios

Not an everyday dessert, this North Indian dish is served hot or warm, with or without cream, and is regally garnished with silver or gold foil, fried almonds, cashews and puffed lotus. Use whatever suits the occasion.
For best results, hold the carrots at a 45-degree angle to the shredding surface of a box shredder, you want long shred neither too thin nor too thick.

Carrot - 9 medium sized(1 1/2 lbs), washed, peeled, shredded and pressed dry
Half-and-half - 1 1/2 cups
Whole milk - 2 1/2 cups
Whole black peppercorns - 8
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Light brown sugar, lightly packed - 1/2 cup
Cardamom seeds - 1 tsp, coarsely powdered
Ghee or unsalted butter - 1/3 cup
Raw almonds - 2 tbsp, sliced or slivered
Raisins or currants - 2 tbsp
Pistachios - 1/4 cup
Ground cloves - 1/4 tsp
Freshly ground nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
Ground cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Golden syrup or light honey - 2 tbsp
Edible silver or gold foil - two 4-inch squares for garnishing

1. Combine the carrots, half-and-half, milk and peppercorns in a heavy non-stick saucepan and stirring constantly, bring to a full boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately high , and stirring frequently, cook for about 25-35 minutes, reducing the heat to moderately low toward the end of cooking, until the milk is reduced to a pasty fudge and the mixture is nearly dry.
2. Add the sugars and half of the cardamom and, stirring steadily to prevent scorching, cook for about 10-12 minutes or until the mixture is again nearly dry. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
3. Heat the ghee or butter in a small pan over moderately low heat, add the almonds and raisins, separately and fry until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the hot butter to the carrot mixture along with almonds, raisins, pistachios and ground spices, and again place the pan over moderately low heat.
4. Cook until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from heat, extract the peppercorns, if desired, and stir in the golden syrup or honey.
5. Transfer the halwa to a decorative serving bowl or tray and garnish with the optional silver or gold foil, remaining cardamom and any of the above suggested garnishes.

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