I recently had a wonderful trip to southern India with a group of amazing people, including Pam Mehta, who enjoys cooking and likes to try out new recipes. While we were traveling, we had the chance to sample many delicious foods, and over the next few months will share recipes for those foods with you in future posts.
For today’s mission, Pam and I teamed up to offer you a tasty and simple pumpkin dessert we learned about on our trip, and which you can serve to your guests this week if you are celebrating Thanksgiving.
Halwa in India….
In India we were served a number of variations of halwa, made from a diverse range of ingredients– especially carrots; halwa can also be made from acorn or butternut squash if you can’t find fresh pumpkin at this time of year.
In this version, we used fresh pumpkin. We substituted a small amount of butter for the ghee which is often included in other halwa recipes; significantly reduced the sugar, and used toasted coconut as a way to enhance the texture.
If you follow a gluten free diet, make sure the coconut and other ingredients that you use in the recipe were not processed on equipment that also processes products that contain gluten (e.g. certain coconut flakes may not be gluten free due to this issue).
Fresh pumpkin works best…
We also tried making this with canned pumpkin (for those of you who don’t want to mess with the fresh variety), but the results were just not the same. Our advice to you is to go for the fresh pumpkin or fresh squash. You and your guests will not be disappointed.
Finally, if you are looking for another alternative for pumpkin pie, try making pumpkin panna cotta for a change of pace this holiday season.
Pumpkin Halwa (serves 4)
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin, grated
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 Tbsp. raisins
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. raw cashews
1. Crush cardamom pods and grind the seeds from the inside of the pod in a mortar and pestle. (Or substitute 1/2 tsp. of commercially ground cardamom; or skip the cardamom entirely and use 1 tsp. vanilla.)
2. Place raisins in a small bowl, cover with water and set aside.
3. Dry roast the cashews in a small skillet to gently brown and remove the “raw” taste. Once cool, chop loosely.
4. Place pumpkin in a medium size pot on stove and cook at medium heat for 15-20 minutes until moisture is released and evaporates. Stir gently while it is cooking to prevent burning. If needed, add a little water and lower the heat.
5. Drain the raisins, dry them on a paper towel, and add them with the sugar, butter, coconut, ground cardamom and salt, and stir gently over low heat.When it is done, you want a fairly dry consistency. Turn off the heat.
6. Serve warm topped with a few chopped cashews. You can also store the finished halwa in the refrigerator for a couple of days and reheat before serving if you make it in advance.
Nutrition information per serving: 160 calories; 7 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 150 mg sodium; 25 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram dietary fiber; 2 grams protein (values are approximate).
Barbara and Pam
Pam Mehta and Barbara Spalding at Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur, Kerala, INDIA. (October, 2015)