This recipe is based on a traditional Indian dessert known as ‘gajjjar ka halwa’, in which finely grated carrots are cooked in milk and ‘khoya’ (dried evaporated milk). Khoya adds a glorious richness to the dessert, but it is time consuming to make. I added some richness by adding double cream although it does not create the same taste and flavour. The beetroot, instead of carrots, lends a deliciously earthy flavor which is quite irresistible.
- 450g/1lb raw beetroot, peeled and finely grated
- 600ml/1 pint full cream milk
- 6 cardamom pods, bruised
- 5cm/2″piece of cinnamon stick, halved
- Good pinch of saffron strands, pounded
- 1 tbsp hot milk
- 150g/5oz soft brown sugar or to taste
- 150ml/5 fl oz double cream
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 50g/2oz ghee or unsalted butter
- 1tbsp seedless raisins
- 1tbsp raw shelled pistachio nuts
- 1 tbsp blanched and slivered almonds
- 1 tbsp rose water
- Put the beetroot, milk, cardamom and cinnamon into a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, then simmer gently until the milk has evaporated (15-20 minutes). Stir frequently to ensure that it does not stick to the pan.
- Meanwhile, soak the saffron in the hot milk for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the sugar to the beetroot mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is dry again (5-6 minutes).
- Stir in the cream, saffron infused milk and the nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes and remove from the heat.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter or ghee gently and fry the raisins and nuts until the raisins are puffed and the nuts are lightly browned. Stir them into the beetroot mixture.
- Transfer the dessert to a serving dish and sprinkle the rose water over the top. Garnish with any seasonal fruit and serve hot or cold with crème fraiche or whipped cream.
Mridula was born in Assam, the tea-growing area in north east India. When she moved to England she turned her childhood passion for cooking to a highly successful career. Mridula is Consultant to Mango Lounge, the award-winning Indian restaurant in Windsor. For more information click here