Learn how to make Gajar Halwa | Carrot Halwa in Instant Pot or in a pressure cooker. This rich, delicate, warm, delicious and absolutely decadent dessert Gajar Halwa | Carrot Halwa has a texture somewhere between a flourless carrot crumble cake, fudge, and a pudding. This halwa (Indian carrot pudding) has a perfect seasoning of cardamom and saffron — a perfect comfort delicacy for winters.
What is Gajar Halwa?
Gajar Halwa or Carrot Pudding is famous as a winter dessert and is served during winter festivals or celebrations. However, Gajar Halwa is also one of the most cooked homemade sweets which is made and consumed throughout the winter.
This delicious Carrot Halwa or Gajar ka halwa is made with grated carrots, ghee, milk, sugar, cardamom, and saffron. Traditionally, this halwa is made by roasting carrots in ghee first and then the carrots are slowly cooked with milk and sugar, flavored with cardamom and saffron. Finally, this is garnished with chopped almonds and cashews.
Pressure cooked version of Gajar Ka Halwa:
If you use an Instant pot, the Gajar Halwa cooks faster. By faster, I mean under 30 minutes. And in those 30 minutes, only a few minutes of effective stirring is required. So with your instant pot, your halwa gets cooked amazingly and effortlessly.
In this version, grated gajar (carrots) get roasted with ghee (clarified butter) and then get caramelized with sugar for some time, then pressure cooked with milk and saffron, then sweetened and roasted again to until dries up.
Once the halwa is cooked in the Instant Pot, it will be a bit softer just like pudding. Later when it cools down a bit, it would get the texture of stove-cooked Gajar Ka Halwa.
How to make Instant Pot Vegan Gajar Halwa?
The traditional carrot halwa recipes use dairy products such as ghee, whole milk, and/or condensed milk. You can make this halwa dairy free by using vegan butter/margarine or coconut oil. Then you can substitute milk with coconut milk, or almond milk. And swap milk powder with some almond meal. If you are planning to add condensed milk, then you can add coconut condensed milk to this vegan version of gajar halwa.
Anyone who is born and brought up in India has their own fond memories of their family’s carrot halwa. For most of the families including mine, it was customary to find the freshest, brightest, juiciest large carrots available in the farmers market as soon as this seasonal vegetable arrives. And this effort was just for making Winter Gajar Halwa. Large red and juicy carrots are the key to prepare best Gajar Halwa.
For me, it was my Mom and Granny who made this Halwa. I can still recall those memories when my mom grated carrots for making halwa and my granny, grandpa, my Dad, and my brother helped her in the grating process. It was such a tedious task manually. It needed intense muscle power, so everyone’s contribution was required.
Then my mom used to cook carrots slowly on stove top along with milk. Those were the days when a simple halwa cooking process felt like a celebration itself.
In traditional Gajar Ka Halwa recipes, carrots are roasted in ghee and then stewed with milk. Once the carrots are cooked, they get sweetened with some sugar and the final touch is flavoring of cardamom and saffron.
This is a long process and involves a lot of labor in terms of stirring and babysitting. Nowadays, this is quite hard to keep ourselves motivated with the long and time taking recipes.
When I moved away from India, I always used to give an excuse to my mom for not making Gajar Ka Halwa often for my family.
It was then when my mom told me her pressure cooker Gajar Halwa recipe. It was surely a hit at my home. My little one just adores it. This is the same recipe I use for making Gajar Halwa in Instant pot and pressure cooker.
Why to use Instant Pot for Gajar Halwa?
Cooking Gajar Halwa in Instant pot reduces the cooking and the stirring time, which is a big plus. With instant pot recipe, you don’t have to monitor your halwa like the traditional recipes, and it reduces the cooking time drastically.
This Instant Pot Gajar Halwa has become my favorite way to make this dessert at home. Because this is easy, fuss-free, quick and tastes delicious too. What else do you need in a dessert! Right.
How To Make Instant Pot Gajar Halwa?
Start off by peeling and grating the carrots. Turn the Instant Pot setting to Sauté (Normal) mode on medium heat. Add ghee and roast cashews. Take out roasted cashews and add grated carrots. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar and stir again. Cover with the glass lid and cook for 5 minutes. Stir the carrots once or twice in between.
Add in the milk and stir well. Add saffron strands and mix well again. Close the lid and set the valve to sealing. Set the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook/Manual (High) for 8 minutes. Once pressure cooked, quick release after 5 minutes.
After pressure cooking the carrots, turn on the saute (Normal) mode. Add in the remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, and roasted cashews. Mix well and add the milk powder, and turn the Instant Pot to Sauté (High) and cook for about 7-8 mins until all of the liquid evaporates.
Add in the cardamom powder and about 1 tablespoon of ghee. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Garnish with sliced almonds and sliced pistachios. Serve hot or warm.
How long can I keep Gajar Halwa?
You can store Gajar Ka Halwa for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This halwa would only stay fresh when kept covered. Simply microwave it for 30 seconds on high heat, or warm it in a double boiler when you want to serve this halwa.
Tips for making best Gajar Halwa (Carrot Halwa) in Instant Pot:
- I would recommend using red carrots for making Gajar Ka Halwa. However, if red carrots are not easily available then you can use orange carrots.
- For a deeper shade, you can also add 1-2 purple carrots. The combination of red and purple carrots would lead to a rich and stunning color.
- If you don’t want to grate carrots, then instead of grating or shredding carrots with hands, you can also food process your carrots. But the grated carrots in halwa always has a melt-in-mouth yet chewy texture and it tastes best. So whenever possible, go for the grated version if you want to enjoy the authentic taste.
- Milk powder is added for the richness in taste. If you want a substitution for milk powder meal in Gajar Halwa then you can replace it with any of the following: Khoya / mawa (dried milk solids), condensed milk, ricotta cheese, almond meal.
- With pressure cooker Gajar Halwa recipe, it is important that you add sugar in 2 parts. One part in the starting, right after a couple of minutes sauteing gajar in the ghee. And the second part of sugar is added when the halwa is pressure cooked. These two steps guarantee that you get the perfectly candied and rich halwa oozing with exotic flavors.
- I have added 3 tablespoons of ghee for this recipe. If you want to cut down the ghee part, then add only 1 tablespoon in the beginning. But never skip the ghee which we add at the end. The addition of ghee at the end brings out an incredibly rich flavour and gives it a great finishing touch.
- Stirring carrots in hot ghee and sauteeing for a little time adds a great flavor.
- You can also replace sugar with jaggery or dates.
How to serve Gajar Halwa?
You can serve Carrot Halwa warm, cold, or at room temperature. I personally like it warm. Halwa solidifies after cooling, and I personally don’t like the texture of it. So make it and serve it as a dessert after a good meal. I also eat my halwa for breakfast. Just saying. 😉
If you liked this recipe, then please find below some other exotic winter halwa recipes. I hope you will definitely enjoy them.
If you make this Instant Pot Gajar Halwa, then do let me know how it turned out for you! Your feedback is very precious to me. Also, please subscribe to My Youtube Channel for more amazing recipe videos.