Sweetness and light – Indian carrot halwa with Devonshire ice cream

On the first night of a week of wedding celebrations in Vijayawada on India’s east coast, I stepped almost straight off the plane and into a sort of home-made dance routine. The idea was that the bride would perform various songs with friends whilst the rest of the friends could be entertained watching the often more than slightly hysterical performance.

In fact it was a kind of cabaret – one would go to a buffet at the back of the room, make a selection from various curries, and return to one’s place to watch the rest of the show. Somehow I’d failed to realise that there was also a pud, and the bride’s mother kindly scooped me up and showed me what to do.


recipe for carrot halwa
A kind of cabaret….


I was busy chortling at the happy antics on the stage when I suddenly became conscious that what I was putting in my mouth was really rather good…. excellent in fact. A kind of Indian ice cream (kulfi – subject of a separate post) with something alluringly sweet and warm. I think a rich, off-the-shelf Devon ice cream is fine to use instead of the kulfi.

I asked Sita what it was and she told me it was Carrot Halwa…. and the good news is that it’s easy and perfectly possible to make in the UK. There are two versions – a very easy one using condensed milk, and a slightly more long-winded one using ordinary milk.


Recipe for Indian Carrot Halwa using condensed milk

Serves about 6


  • 1.5 kg/3 lbs 5 oz carrots (ready grated ideally)
  • 100g/3 oz ghee (clarified butter – go here for how to make this out of ordinary butter)
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 x 400g/14 oz tin condensed milk (no need for additional sugar as in the recipe below as the condensed milk is already thick with it)
  • 50g/¼ cup chopped cashews dry fried
  • 40g/ ¼ cup raisins
  • pinch salt


  1. Heat the ghee and fry the grated carrots in it until tender in a wok or thick-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Add the condensed milk. Stir. 
  3. Crush the cardamom pods, remove the seeds and add the seeds to the saucepan. Add the cashews and raisins. 
  4. Stir, and continue to cook until the halwa has reduced and is thick.
  5. Serve warm with ice cream or kulfi.



Recipe for Indian Carrot Halwa using milk

Serves about 8


  • 450g/1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded (it’s quicker in a magimix, or you can buy them ready grated)
  • 480ml/2 cups milk
  • 40g/ ¼ cup raisins
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 100g/½ cup granulated sugar – or you could use jaggery
  • 50g/¼ cup chopped cashews dry fried
  • pinch salt


  1. Put the carrots, milk, raisins, and salt in a medium saucepan and get good and hot.
  2. crush the cardamom pods, remove the seeds and add the seeds to the saucepan.
  3. Continue to cook for an hour or so – until the mix is more solid than liquid.
  4. Stir in the sugar – taste it – if it needs more sugar add more sugar. Stir in and continue to cook for another five minutes or so – the mixture should be quite stiff by now.
  5. Serve, garnished with the cashews.


This post is dedicated to Sita Kodali.


recipe for indian halwa

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