A delicious Indian dessert made with carrots, Gajar Halwa is an addictive and magical recipe.
Cut the long cooking time by using the Instant Pot without compromising greatly on the taste and flavor.
Carrot is the star of Indian Winters. It is found in so many forms in the kitchens throughout the season.
One of the most popular form of enjoying carrots is in this sweet form called Gajar Halwa.
Traditionally made on the stove top, this version is a SUPER easy and quick version made in the Instant pot.
The star of Winter weddings, this one has been on my list since forever. But it is rather rare to find red carrots in the US. They make the best halwa given their bright red color and less moisture content.
Over the last couple years the red carrots have made their appearance in farmers markets and Indian stores. And this year they have been in BULK everywhere.
The season has been so good that we have enjoyed carrot halwa and some desserts made with it in the last couple months.
This carrot halwa has been made at least 5 times in the name of testing the recipe. The final version has been used a couple times for friends and family. And now the recipe is here!
What is Gajar Halwa?
A delicious Indian dessert made using carrots, Gajar Halwa is definitely one of the MOST popular dessert.
A popular find at weddings, Indian restaurants and homes; Gajar Halwa is the star of winters. Whether served piping hot or in a cooled version topped with vanilla ice cream; this dessert is truly heavenly.
Slow cooked carrots in full fat milk gives it the magical flavor, consistency and taste. No thickeners are required and only patience gets you to the end result!
This dessert has been the highlight in so many events we have had in India. Plus, a starting point to a whole new world of fusion desserts, Gajar Halwa is truly a delight.
This Instant Pot Gajar Halwa
- is easy to make in the Instant Pot with a handful of ingredients
- comes together in a fraction of the time that traditional gajar halwa needs
- can be made in a small batch or in bulk. The cooking time remains the same
- is delicious as is or with vanilla ice cream or to use in another fusion dessert
This Instant Pot version has been a hit in our family this winter. Though the traditional recipe is classic, this version is no less!
Though the recipe stresses for red carrots, they may not be available throughout the year or in your part of the world.
It can be made with orange carrots or even a mix of the colorful carrots. The flavor might change a bit but it will still taste delicious.
Making this Gajar Halwa in the Instant Pot
The traditional version takes hours to make. Carrots are grated and cooked with milk till they are soft. Then mawa (milk solids) are added and so are the add-ins.
Pretty complex and time consuming but the final product is SO good.
I have made it several times with orange and red carrots but lately this version made in the Instant Pot has been a favorite. It is quick and easy and a real short-cut recipe.
Cooking on the open flame gets substituted with the Instant Pot and mawa gets replaced with milk powder or mawa powder. As it is in the powder form it takes only a couple minutes to cook and does not release a lot of moisture.
Carrots: The core ingredient here is carrots. If you can find red carrots, they are THE best. If not, orange carrots will work too.
Wash and peel the carrots. They can be grated using a madoline or a food processor. Buying pre shredded bags is an easy way to eliminate one step of the process.
Milk: The carrots cook in milk. Whole or reduced fat milk works. However, the reduced fat version will result in more liquid after cooking and will have to be boiled longer.
Sugar: Granulated or fine sugar works. As the sugar is added in a hot mix, it tends to melt quickly.
While there are recipes with other sweeteners, I would recommend using sugar for this recipe.
Ghee: An essential ingredient of so many Indian sweets, ghee is used to cook the carrots here.
I have never tried making gajar halwa without ghee so not sure if it will work.
Milk Powder: An easy way to make the recipe quickly is to use milk/mawa powder. The traditional recipe uses mawa but this works as an easy shortcut.
Try and use mawa powder from the Indian store instead of the non-fat milk powder for a richer tasting dessert.
Add-ins: Once you have the four basic ingredients, the rest are all add-ins.
Whether it is cardamom powder, cardamom pods, saffron, raisins or nuts like cashews and pistachios; they all work to enhance the taste. A pinch of salt added to sweets always enhances them.
These can be added in any combination or skipped based on how you like it.
Step by Step Instructions to make
1- Peel the carrots and shred using a madoline or the thick side of the food processor. If the carrots have hardy centers, discard them.
2- Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add ghee.
3- Once the display reads hot and the ghee melts, add the shredded carrots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till the carrots start to absorb ghee.
4- Add milk and mix well.
5- Close the lid and change the mode to pressure cook. Cook for 3 minutes and once the cooking is done, release all the pressure manually. Open the lid.
6- Add sugar, milk powder, saffron, salt, raisins, cashews, pistachios, cardamom pods and cardamom powder.
7- Mix everything well and change the mode back to sauté. There will be a lot of liquid so let it cook till the liquid is absorbed. Stir intermittently.
8- Once the halwa is dry, turn the instant pot off and remove the steel pot out. This stops the cooking and helps to keep the halwa moist.
Tips and Notes
- Red or orange carrots can be used in the recipe. The color will vary based on the type of carrots used.
- Grate the carrots using a thick blade grater or food processor. Shredded carrots can be bought to use in the recipe too.
- Using full fat milk and mawa powder gives it the rich taste of Indian desserts. Do not skimp on them or ghee in the recipe.
- The nuts can be used in any combination you like. They can be sautéed in ghee before using too.
Looking for more carrot recipe? Try these:
Instant Pot Gajar Halwa
- Red Carrots 4 large or 6-7 medium 3 cups on shredding
- Whole Milk ½ cup
- Sugar ⅓ cup
- Milk Powder Mawa Powder ⅓ cup
- Almonds Pistachios and Cashews 4-5 each
- Raisins 10-12
- Saffron a pinch
- Cardamom pods 4-5
- Cardamon powder ½ tsp
- Salt a pinch
- Ghee 4 tbsp
- Peel the carrots and shred using a madoline or the thick side of the food processor. If the carrots have hardy centers, discard them.
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add ghee.
- Once the display reads hot and the ghee melts, add the shredded carrots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till the carrots start to absorb ghee.
- Add milk and mix well.
- Close the lid and change the mode to pressure cook. Cook for 3 minutes and once the cooking is done, release all the pressure manually. Open the lid.
- Add sugar, milk powder, saffron, salt, raisins, cashews, pistachios, cardamom pods and cardamom powder.
- Mix everything well and change the mode back to sauté. There will be a lot of liquid so let it cook till the liquid is absorbed. Stir intermittently.
- Once the halwa is dry, turn the instant pot off and remove the steel pot out. This stops the cooking and helps to keep the halwa moist.