Navarthri is a festival that heralds the start of the autumn/winter holiday season, bringing forth a host of delicious, childhood memories that run the gamut from platters brimming with homemade, scrumptious delicacies, to temples and courtyards adorned with flowers. From young women bedecked in gorgeous, ghagra-cholis as they dance to the tantalizing beat of the garba music, to the larger than life, resplendent idols of Goddess Durga, that is such a quintessential part of Navaratri celebrations in India.
In honor of this festival, I created this special “waist watcher’s” version of the traditional, very rich carrot halwa or pudding recipe, by blending the vibrant colors of the season: pumpkin and carrots with the jewel tones from beets.
The end product is a dessert that looks and tastes lavish, but has 1/2 the sugar, 1/2 the saturated fat and significantly fewer calories than the original version, which calls for whole milk and twice the amount of butter or ghee. Some really decadent versions call for a mix of whole milk and half and half or cream. By “reducing” fat-free milk, you add a creamy flavor and texture, without resorting to high calorie substitutes.
Makes 3 servings
Serving size: 1/3 cup
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and freshly grated (about 1 large carrot)
- 1 and 1/4 cup beets, peeled and freshly grated (about 1 medium to large beetroot)
- 1 cup pumpkin, rind removed and freshly grated
- 2-2.5 tbsp butter, unsalted, divided
- 1 and 1/3 cup fat-free milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp raisins
- 2-3 almonds, slivered
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder (preferably freshly ground)
- 2-3 small strands of saffron (optional)
- In a thick bottomed pot or sauce pan, heat 1.5 tbsp of butter on low -medium heat.
- Add raisins and slivered almonds, stir for a few minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a small plate lined with a clean paper towel
- In the same pot, add grated carrots and stir for a few minutes, until carrots begin to lose their moisture.
- Now add the grated pumpkin and keep stirring, an additional 8-10 minutes. (At this time, you may see some butter oozing from the sides of the pan).
- Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a clean plate
- Add the remaining 1/2 -1 tbsp of butter to the same pan, add the raw beets and repeat the same process as noted for the grated pumpkin until cooked through.
- Return the cooked carrots and pumpkin to the pan, giving the mixture a good stir.
- By this time the vegetables will have formed a homogeneous mass that is a dark pink color.
- Bring the milk to a boil, stir in saffron, and simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally until reduced by approximately 1/4 to 1/3.
- Add the reduced, hot milk in small batches to the grated vegetables in the pan, stirring constantly until completely absorbed, and mixture begins to look dry again.
- Add the 1/4 cup of sugar, stirring constantly.
- Keep stirring until the liquid in the pan evaporates and the mixture begins to look dry again.
- Stir in the freshly ground nutmeg and cardamom powder.
- Remove from heat and garnish with the reserved raisins and slivered almonds.
- Serve warm (my personal preference), or chilled.
A Registered Dietitian’s tip: Carrots, pumpkin and beets pack quite a nutritional punch as they are chock-full of antioxidants that can combat the oxidative damage which leads to chronic disease, very low in calories like most vegetables, and high in the all-important fiber that I have discussed in so many posts!
Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or dietitian for recommendations tailored to your unique needs.