Gajar ka Halwa is a popular Indian dessert made of carrots, milk, sugar and dried fruit. It may be known as a carrot pudding…mainly because wikipedia said so and mainly because there really is no other way to describe “halwa” other than “pudding” even though it is not a pudding… it’s just pretty hard to translate.

Anyway, my mom used to make this dessert throughout our childhood on special occasions and me and my brothers love it, we could hardly wait before it was done and ready to eat. Often times I would “taste check” for my mom because of my impatience :)

Gajar ka Halwa can tend to be a heavy dessert, however throughout the years my mom has modified her recipe to make it lighter and a bit healthier with skim milk, less butter, and omitting ricotta cheese.

When I made this, I decided to add some fall flavors to it (nutmeg and cinnamon) and it turned out really nice. It’s one of those dishes that you can’t stop eating because hey, that is what happened to me so its bound to happen to you (side note: it’s really good when combined with vanilla ice cream.)

So I thought I would share the recipe with any of you who are interested in trying Indian sweets. Keep in mind this makes a whole pot of Halwa (enough for a party of 20 people) so you might want to halve the recipe and it will still be good.

Gajar Ka Halwa Recipe:

  • 5lbs of carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 cups of skim milk
  • 4 cardamoms, broken
  • 1/2 cup almond powder
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • pinch of saffron mixed with 3 tablespoons of milk (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of sliced almonds (for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup of regular raisins
  • 1/3 cup of golden raisins

Heat a large pot (such as a soup pot) and melt the butter. Add the shredded carrots and stir. Next add in the cardamom and milk and mix really well; you will need to cook this for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. This is the main cooking process of the halwa where the moisture of the carrots and the milk is absorbed.

Once the carrot is tender and everything has reduced add in the almond powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron mixture and stir well. Finally add in the raisins and mix. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Generally served warm with sliced almonds on top for garnish. :)

Goat Cheese Lasagna

September 18, 2010

My mouth is watering just thinking about this. Growing up my parents would make lasagna for dinner every now and then and for me and my brothers it was the best thing in the world. It was exciting for us because we were so used to eating Indian food every day. Don’t get me wrong we love Indian food but as a kid sometimes you want to just fit in and have something for dinner that your friends would have. So lasagna was one of the first “American” dinners that we had and I still love it. Its so cheesy and fattening rich and creamy you can’t help but love it. My dad would make his lasagna with basic ingredients: tomato sauce, ground beef, cottage cheese (instead of ricotta), and mozzarella cheese. For me, this is just fine, I love it the way it is but I wanted to jazz up the recipe a bit and invite new flavors to a classic.

Indian food is about bold flavors, either using a lot of different mild ingredients in a dish to make it more flavorful or one or two strong ingredients. So this is the concept I was going for. Although lasagna is pretty flavorful it doesn’t always stick out. This goat cheese idea came from an Ina Garten recipe. I saw that she had used goat cheese in one of her lasagnas so I adapted that into this recipe.

Goat cheese is tart and creamy and so good if used with the right ingredients. Instead of using too much of a good thing I decided to infuse some ricotta cheese with the goat cheese just so that you could know that the goat cheese was there without it overpowering the whole dish. To that, I added chopped green onions, some salt and pepper, and an egg to bind it all–and there is your magic mixture that makes this dish incredibley delicious.

Lasagna Recipe

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken any way you prefer
  • 280z can of stewed tomatoes
  • 8oz can of tomato paste
  • 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 8oz of goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of green onion (with whites), chopped
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese

1. Cook the ground chicken any way that you prefer, I cooked it with onions, garlic, salt, chili pepper, cumin and cilantro but use any spices that you like–once the meat is cooked add the stewed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Mix well and season to taste.

2. Boil the lasagna noodles half way. Drain, and place in a bowl of water to keep them from sticking.

3. In a medium sized bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, goat cheese, egg, green onions and season with salt and pepper–divide in half (for two layers in the lasagna)

3. Preheat your oven to 375┬░

4. Take out a lasagna baking dish, I used a 3qt casserole. Begin layering your lasagna: meat sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozarella cheese, ricotta cheese mixture, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozarella cheese, ricotta cheese mixture, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese.

5. Cover with an aluminum foil tent and bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool for about an hour or so before serving so that the lasagna sets.

Enjoy :-)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

September 8, 2010

Ohmygoodness it’s almost Fall

Has Summer really gone by that quickly? College starting back up and Labor Day are my annual reminders that fall is just around the corner. It must have reached about 5o degrees last week after being in the 90’s for nearly the whole Summer. And regardless of how cold it was I was more excited than anything because I realized I get to bust out all of my cold weather recipes… in other words: soup!

Me and my dad are particularly fond of soups in our family. For us, it’s the ultimate comfort food. He actually makes this amazing french onion soup that I will probably post up here one of these days. But anyway, when I found the recipe for this hungarian mushroom soup I remember thinking how much he’s going to like it, turns out he loves it.

I have so many soup recipes to try out but I had all the ingredients to make this one so I thought I would go for it. I made it last Sunday for dinner and my family absolutely loved it including me, it’s definitely something I am going to make again (and again and again.)

The unique ingredients are what make this soup so good: dill, paprika, soy sauce and lemon juice meld so well together creating an interesting twist on a familiar taste. If you are a fan of cream of mushroom soup then you will adore this recipe. If you are not too excited about fall coming then just remember we still have a little bit of summer left :)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup (From Allrecipes)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used olive oil)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used regular white ones )
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed (or fresh dill)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (key ingredient)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim milk)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • handful of chopped parsley (or cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (extra for garnish)

Heat the butter/oil in a large pot over medium heat. Throw the onions in and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with lid on.

In a separate bowl mix the milk and flour together. Pour this mixture into the soup and stir well. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.

Finally stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.