Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding with Saffron and Pistachios)

This velvety carrot pudding thickened with sweetened condensed milk and paneer, an Indian cow's milk cheese similar to farmer cheese, is subtly spiced with cardamom and garnished with pistachios. It's wintertime comfort food in Punjab where frigid temperatures are no match for this warm dessert that is traditionally made from red Punjabi carrots, which are only available in the winter. In spite of its simplicity, this sweet feels celebratory and is often served at Indian temple festivals and during the winter holiday of Diwali, the festival of lights. Diyas, traditional clay oil lamps, light the homes of millions of Indian families during Diwali, and although it's a Hindu festival, it's enjoyed by people from all denominations.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the whole milk over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until warmed through, about 4 minutes. Do not let the milk come to a boil in order to prevent scorching.
  2. Add the carrots, cardamom, saffron, and sugar and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until most of the milk has evaporated and the carrots are tender and the pudding is beginning to thicken, stirring occasionally to prevent the carrots from burning and the milk from boiling over. This should take about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the ghee and the paneer and cook for another 10 minutes to melt the ghee and dissolve the paneer until it is fully incorporated, stirring occasionally. Add the condensed milk and reduce the heat to low. Cook until you can insert a spoon into the middle of the pudding and it's thick enough to stand up straight, another 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the cashews, pistachios, and raisins. Serve while the pudding is still hot, as it's at its most comforting at this stage. I doubt if you will have any leftovers (this is a seconds and thirds kind of chaat), but if you do, it will keep in your refrigerator in a covered container for a day or two. If saving the pudding for another day, reheat it in a saucepan over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of milk to help it regain its creamy consistency.