Kuch meetha ho jaaye
The norm is, it's not winter till you've had gajar ka halwa. Let this trail of unique and traditional versions of the vibrant sweet guide you on a foodie quest
Come winter and piping hot gajar ka halwa with unsweetened chai makes for the ideal snack to warm you up. The recipe, which dates back to the Mughal empire, came about as a healthy yet scrumptious tweak to the recipe of the traditional halwa. While the original recipe comprises carrot, milk and ghee, today, it's also made using mava, though still slow-cooked. We pick eateries in Mumbai that have given their own twist to it as well as those that stick to the original.
Feast of five
Giving the gajar ka halwa a Christmassy twist, this Lower Parel eatery is serving five carrot preparations in the form of a cake log, using different types of the ingredient. The Dilli carrot swiss roll, a rendition of gajar ka halwa, comprises a tender carrot cake made with red carrots, black carrot halwa, carrot jam, candied black carrots and black carrot jelly made with the leftover purple syrup from the candied carrots.
A light cream cheese frosting and tamarind caramel complete this winter special. "Every winter, as sweet red carrots flooded the markets, we knew that it was time for gajar halwa. My sister and I would grate the carrots, while mom chopped nuts. The kitchen was infused with the aroma of ghee and sugar. My mother always made halwa by slow-cooking it with milk over a long period of time — no shortcuts. That is how I make it to this day. Only this time, I was inspired to use the black carrots I spotted in the market, a twist that surprised my tough-to-impress mother," says pastry chef Heena Punwani of Hunger Inc Hospitality.
At The Bombay Canteen, Unit-1, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.
Time 12 pm to 12 am
Cost Rs 350
Best of both worlds
Gajar halwa pastry
If you love cake, then try the gajar halwa pastry at this Juhu eatery. It consists of melt-in-your-mouth layers of the desi treat set on an aromatic cardamom sponge, topped with almonds and edible silver leaf.
"The best gajar ka halwa I had was in Delhi at a street shop. I wanted to give the dish a new avatar and everyone loves pastries, so I thought why not combine the two?" says chef Rakesh Talwar of the newly-launched outlet.
At Vice- Global Tapas Bar, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu.
Time 6 pm to 1.30 am
Cost Rs 295
Amar Akbar Anthony
Named after the iconic 1977 Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Amar Akbar Anthony, this three-layer halwa goes beyond carrots, as it also includes a layer of beetroot and doodhi halwa each.
All three are slow-cooked in milk and sugar and flavoured with cardamom. "The authenticity and flavour of the halwa made by our great grandparents is what binds us to the sweet flavours that instantly take us down memory lane. My family's traditional recipe, that's been passed down generations, inspired this dish. The mawa gives it a rich and creamy texture," says Ruffy Shaikh, executive chef.
At Via Bombay, Jewel Of Chembur, 1st Road, Chembur.
Time 12 pm to 3 pm, 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Cost Rs 250
Of burnt cream and crumble
Gajar halwa crumble
Keeping the colour, aroma, texture and taste authentic, yet giving it their own spin, this Lower Parel outlet is serving a gajar halwa crumble, a light version of the winter sweet, in a shortcrust cup and covered with burnt cream to enhance the aroma.
"When we were kids, we spent our summers in the hills of Mussoorie while winters were in Ajmer. I distinctly remember the aroma of gajar halwa cooking away on charcoal angithis (coal-fired stove) outside the kitchen in winters. My mum used to serve it to us with burnt milk cream," Prashant Issar, co-founder of the restaurants, says.
At Ishaara, 3rd floor, Palladium Mall, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel.
Time I2 pm to 12 am
Cost Rs 340
Vegan gajar ka halwa
Trying to lose your holiday weight but have a halwa craving? This vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free option made with organic cold-pressed sunflower oil instead of ghee, almond milk, organic nuts such as almonds and pistachios and organic unrefined coconut sugar as sweetener, is ideal for you.
"Growing up, every winter we would wait for the red carrots to come in season and use it as the base for the halwa. I knew when I wanted to make a vegan version of the same that I didn't want to lose the essence of the dish. It's known for its light and crunchy texture, which I wanted to replicate using vegan substitutes such as almond milk and sunflower oil. Cooking down the dry fruits at the beginning gives a nice nutty flavour to the halwa," says Raveena Taurani, founder and chef.
At Yogisattva, Pinnacle House, 7th Floor, 15th Road, PD Hinduja Junction, Khar West.
Time 12 pm to 7 pm
Cost Rs 450 (for 200 gms)
Gajar ka halwa
Using fresh ingredients and waiting for the naturally-sweet winter carrots is key when it comes to making an authentic rendition of the dish. It's also vital to slow-cook it in full fat milk over a couple of hours, with a sprinkling of cardamom.
Anuradha Joshi Medhora
Which is exactly how this pop-up is serving it. "Gajar ka halwa is synonymous with the onset of winter. My nani and mom would send it to each other's homes because my mom liked the one my nani made, and vice-versa," shares Anuradha Joshi Medhora, founder and chef.
At Charoli, FLEA Bazaar Café, First Floor, Trade View Building, Lower Parel.
Time 12 pm to 1 am
Cost Rs 210
This eatery has combined the chikki and halwa, two famous winter desserts from Kanpur, and given it their own twist by replacing the carrots with mango. "Dollops of halwa made with ripe mangoes and flavoured with saffron are topped with almond chikki triangles," says chef Saurabh Udinia.
At Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, BKC.
Time 12 pm to 2.30 pm; 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Also try out
. Head here for a robust halwa that's rich and not too sweet.
At Guru Kripa, 40, Road Number 24, Sion West. Time 9 am to 11 pm Call 24074188 Cost Rs 64
. Though known for it's savoury snacks, their gajar ka halwa is as famous in the winter.
At Cannon Pav Bhaj, Mahapalika Marg, Hazarimal Somani Road, Fort. Time 7 am to 10 pm Call 22074205 Cost Rs 40
. Ideal for your midnight craving.
At Dilli di Hatti, Shop 1, Plot 266, Film City Road, Goregaon East. Time 11 am to 2 am Call 7303817777 Cost Rs 70
. For a South Indian version.
At Cafe Mysore, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Road, Matunga East. Time 7 am to 10 pm Call 24021230 Cost Rs 140
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