Gajar ka Halwa is a special Indian dessert made from carrots (Gajar means carrots in Hindi) that has a texture somewhat in between a porridge and a fudge. Grated carrots stewed with milk and sugar until all the milk evaporates off leaving a soft and fudgy mixture that tastes like caramelized carrots and milk. Just like most other Indian desserts, cardamom is the spice added for flavor and the whole combination is just yum 🙂 I have been meaning to try a Paleo and AIP version of Gajar ka Halwa for a long time and last week I thought why not make it for Diwali! We were hosting Diwali party this year in our home and I signed up to make dessert! I also decided to make it in the Instant Pot.
The traditional way of making it on the stove top is quite laborious because the carrots and the milk have to be slow cooked stirring constantly. The Instant Pot was much better for this recipe even though I had to use the ‘saute’ button towards the end to get all liquid evaporated off and get the halwa consistency. It is much easier to do this step using the Instant Pot since Instant Pot has a low saute setting which essentially prevents food from burning. Of course you do need to stir it frequently and you need to close to the Instant Pot while you are doing this – yes, you cannot just walk away from it unless you are willing to risk getting burnt halwa! All my efforts were well-worth it though! The Halwa came out super delicious with absolutely the right texture – just as I like it! Yes I am very picky when it comes to Gajar ka Halwa and in my ‘pre paleo’ days I could never bring myself to eat it at the typical Indian restaurant buffets where most of the times the gajar halwa looked as if the carrots had just been boiled with milk and then stirred with sugar. No, thank you Ma’m! I like a halwa that has spent some time on the stove 🙂
Not only did the halwa come out to my liking but everyone at the party liked the halwa too. And they did not even guess that it was dairy free and refined sugar free until I told them! Now don’t you love that? When you make a paleo/AIP version of something which is a hit with everyone? That’s real success folks! Also check out my video for the detailed steps for making this halwa and try making it during the holidays! A healthy and yummy dessert!
- 6 cups grated carrots (about 5 large carrots)
- 3 tbsp ghee or coconut oil (Use coconut oil for AIP)
- ½ cup cashew nuts sliced (omit for AIP)
- ½ cup coconut chips
- 2 cans coconut milk
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 cups plus ½ cup shredded coconut (divided)
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp ground cardamom (omit for AIP)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg or pumpkin spice (optional - omit for AIP)
- Press saute on the Instant Pot. Add 2 tbsp of the ghee or coconut oil and saute cashewnuts and coconut chips for 2 mins stirring frequently until golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon. Keep aside.
- Then add 1 more tbsp ghee (or coconut oil) and the grated carrots, coconut milk and sea salt. Pressure cook for 5 mins. Let pressure release naturally and then open lid.
- Press Cancel button and then Turn saute mode on. Change saute setting till you get low saute. Add 2 cups of the shredded coconut, maple syrup and the spices. Stir to mix and then leave on low saute mode for about 15-20 mins total depending upon final consistency desired (not much water left and thick porridge like consistency is achieved). Stir frequently while on saute mode to avoid scorching at the bottom. When done, add the toasted nuts(if adding), the coconut chips and ½ cup more of the shredded coconut.
- Serve warm!
I am sharing this recipe at the weekly Paleo/AIP Recipe Roundtable this week hosted by Phoenix Helix.
I would love to make this but I only have a slow cooker .. would that work?
Hello Maria, you can certainly try it in the slow cooker. I am thinking 8 hours of slow cooking should yield a good halwa! But I have not tried it myself in the slow cooker. If you try it, do lmk how it turns out! Thank you for your question!
Hi Indu, loved the video of carrot halwa, but worried that the coconut milk, the shredded coconut and the coconut flakes would contribute to a high amount of saturated fatty acids. What are your views on that?
Hi Binu! Thanks for your question. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding saturated fat and that consuming them is harmful. Based on whatever I have researched and read about this is not true. The fatty acids in coconut are MCTs or medium chain fatty acids which actually have a lot of health benefits because they can be easily absorbed in the small intestine without the need of bile salts. Check out more detailed explanation in this excellent post by Dr Sarah Ballanytne of ‘The Paleo Mom’ – https://www.thepaleomom.com/coconut-oil-any-truth-to-the-pure-poison-claims/. In the end of course too much of anything is not good and our bodies need a balance of all the good fats which includes saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. So to that point, your concern may be justified to some extent but my response would be ‘ this is meant to be dessert and thereby an occasional treat’. As long as we understand and appreciate that there is no need to be unduly concerned about saturated fats – they are actually good for you!. Another resource I recommend that you read is ‘The Big Fat Surprise’ by Nina Teicholz – It was part of recommended reading for my Nutritional therapy course and it was an eye opener for me. Also if you get a chance do read ‘ Put your heart in your mouth’ by Dr Natasha McBride. Hope you find this useful! – Indu