Fall is upon us & it’s time to celebrate all things pumpkin! Here in the US, no other vegetable characteristically defines the fall season more than a pumpkin (the famous orange variety). Rarely do we see this noble vegetable at any other time of the year, so when it’s in season – I like to make the most of it.
Bhoplyacha Halwa is a delicious pumpkin based dessert. Halwa (or halva) is a bit hard to describe & simply calling it pudding just doesn’t do this wonderful recipe justice. Now since the Indian Festival of Lights (Diwali or Deepavali) holiday usually falls right around pumpkin season, this particular dessert has become somewhat of a tradition in my house during this festive season.
If you prefer to use a hand grater, then by all means – go for it. If you have a food processor, then your prep time is a snap, just remember to remove the hard outer peel & the inner seeds first. I highly recommend using the small sugar pumpkin variety for this recipe.
BHOPLYACHA HALWA (Pumpkin Dessert)
2 lbs of sugar pumpkin, peeled & grated (seeds removed as well)
2 cups milk (2% is fine)
2 cups of sugar, to taste (you can use brown sugar or honey if you wish)
˝ tsp ground cardamom powder
˝ tsp ground cinnamon powder
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of saffron, soaked in a couple tbsp of warm milk
˝ cup of toasted unsalted nuts (you can use pistachios, cashews or almonds), chopped
˝ cup yellow raisins
4 tbsp unsalted butter (or ghee)
2 tbsp chopped toasted unsalted nuts for garnish
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium low heat, add 1 tbsp of the butter or ghee. When melted, add the raisins and sauté until nice & plumped. Remove the raisins from the pan & set aside until needed. Now add the nuts & sauté for a few minutes until fragrant. Remove the nuts from the pan & set aside until needed.
Now add the remaining butter (or ghee) to the same pan. When melted, add the grated pumpkin & sauté until slightly softened, then add enough milk to just barely cover the pumpkin. Stir well to combine and cook until the pumpkin softens completely & has absorbed all of the milk. There should be almost no milk left in the pan. Next, add the sugar, raisins & nuts along with the spices (ground cardamom powder, ground cinnamon powder, freshly grated nutmeg & the saffron along with any soaking liquid. Let cook for another 5-10 minutes, garnish with some extra chopped nuts. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream/gelato.
You can make this recipe using butternut squash or acorn squash instead of pumpkin.
To make Carrot Halwa (Gajracha Halwa), you can use the same recipe but add carrots in place of the pumpkin.