Traditionally halwa is eaten in Northern India during winter, where it is made using the red carrots that the region is famous for, while in Southern India, they eat a beetroot version all year round.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beetroot (beets), washed and grated
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) milk
- 125 g (4½ oz) white sugar
- 50 g (¾ oz) ghee
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp raisins, lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle
- 2 tbsp pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
- strawberry coulis, edible silver leaf, rose petal ice-cream and edible flowers, to serve (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Put the beetroot in a saucepan with the milk and 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of water and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until the beetroot softens and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the sugar, mix well and cook for about 30 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and all the milk has been absorbed.
Add 30 g (1 oz) of the ghee, the cardamom and raisins, mix well and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the remaining ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat and fry the pistachio nuts until lightly golden.
Serve the halwa hot, cold or at room temperature in a bowl or form into small quenelles (oval mounds). Drizzle with the strawberry coulis, garnish with silver leaf and serve with rose petal ice-cream, the fried nuts and edible flowers if desired.
• Make sure that all the beetroot has been cooked and there is very little water left before adding the sugar.
Recipes and images courtesy of From India by Kumar and Suba Mahadevan, published by Murdoch Books, $59.99 photographer Mark Roper.