A few years ago I 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. We still get together to create recipes for many of the foods we enjoyed on out trip including this pumpkin halwa.
For today’s post, Pam and I teamed up to offer you a tasty and simple pumpkin dessert we were served on our trip, and which you can serve at any time of year. Pumpkin halwa also works well as an alternative to traditional pumpkin pie when Thanksgiving comes around.
Halwa in India….
In India we tried a number of variations of halwa, made from a broad range of ingredients including fresh pumpkin, carrots and butternut squash. If you can’t find fresh pumpkin at the market, you can substitute acorn or other winter squashes. The flavor will be a little different, but it will still be an interesting dessert.
In this version, we were able to use fresh pumpkin. Traditional halwa recipes use ghee as the fat in this recipe; we substituted a small amount of butter for the ghee. While ghee and butter 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 dessert with canned pumpkin (if you don’t want to mess with the fresh variety). The results were just not the same. Our advice to you is to go for the fresh pumpkin or fresh squash, or use fresh carrots, depending on what’s available. You and your family and 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. Like the halwa, panna cotta can also be made with different fruits and flavorings. Let your creative side loose and let me know if you come up with a new taste sensation.