Indian cuisine is all about fragrant spices and seasonings. Once when invited to dinner at the home of my husband’s Indian coworker, on entering we were immediately treated to the exotic and complex aroma of their curry.And when I took an Indian cooking class years ago, we were sent home with several tiny containers of whole spices that were to be ground up just before use. In contrast, we Americans tend to keep ground-up seasonings and spices in our cupboards for years, which I imagine would make an Indian cook think of us as deprived indeed
Cardamom is one fragrant, floral seasoning used in Indian cooking. You can buy it ground, or in the form of pods that contain several seeds each. Freshly ground cardamom seeds are the secret of this carrot pudding, which can be a sweet side dish or a less-sweet dessert. You could use pre-ground cardamom, but the effort to open the pods and grind the seeds yourself is well worth it.
This recipe is an adaptation of a traditional Indian dish, gajar halwa mithai, which translates from Hindi to “carrot pudding dessert.” The traditional version contains refined sugar and is cooked longer and cut into squares. This pudding is quicker and softer, is sweetened with dates or honey, and can be served in individual dishes or one larger bowl or dish.
The pudding can be dairy-free using coconut oil and coconut milk. Alternatively, you can use ghee (clarified butter) and regular milk. Ghee and milk are traditional in the Indian version.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, OR ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 6 medium)
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, OR 1 2/3 cups regular milk
- 4 pitted dates, finely chopped OR 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably from green pods (for fresh ground, use 8 to 12 cardamom pods; open pods and remove seeds, then finely grind seeds in a clean coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios (toast 10 minutes in preheated 300°F oven)
- Whipped cream (optional topping; about 1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped)
- In a medium saucepan over medium setting, heat coconut oil or ghee until melted. Add grated carrots. Cook and stir about 10 minutes until carrots are translucent and beginning to soften.
- Add coconut milk, chopped dates or honey, and ground cardamom, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low boil. Boil 20 minutes, stirring often, until carrots are very soft. Stir in 1/4 cup raisins.
- Place mixture in a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender, and process briefly so that mixture is smoother but flecks of carrot and raisins are still visible.
- Transfer pudding to 6 individual dishes or to a bowl, and top with 2 tablespoons raisins and the chopped, toasted pistachios.
- Serve warm or room temperature. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
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