This recipe marks a milestone in my relationship with my mother. When I gave her some of the halwa with a cup of tea, she burst into tears. I was horrified something was wrong. “No,” she said, “but I think it’s better than mine!”
If eating carrots as a dessert strikes you as odd, remember how good a spiced carrot cake is. This isn’t too distant a cousin.
¼ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup pecans
1½ tablespoons powdered jaggery or brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon garam masala
12/3 pounds carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup condensed milk
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or finely ground seeds from 12 pods)
First caramelize the pecans. Line an oven pan with parchment paper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and when the butter starts to foam, add the pecans, jaggery, and garam masala, and stir. Keep stirring until the jaggery melts and turns a warm brown, then take off the heat and tip onto the pan. Be careful, as the sugar will be hotter than the sun. If you feel inclined to separate the nuts before the sugar sets, do so with a fork. Leave to cool while you make the halwa.
Melt the rest of the butter in a non-stick pan over low to medium heat and, when hot, add the grated carrot. Cook for 10 minutes, until wilted and soft, then add the condensed milk. Stir regularly for another 10 minutes, then add the cardamom and mix well. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then take off the heat.
Spoon the halwa into bowls and distribute the nuts between them.