I wanted to make a nice sweet for Diwali this year (on 28th October-if you want to know more about Diwali, go here). It had to be something special, but no kheer or the kinds, and I was in no mood for gajar halwa (carrot halwa). Somehow I don't like the taste of these orange carrots found here despite cooking them in milk and adding cream or butter or ghee. But then I remembered the event Tried and Tasted by the Zlamushka and thought of Indira and her wonderful blog Mahanandi.
While searching, I came across this yummy recipe there and I knew it was just the right thing for Diwali. Something totally new to me. I have never made any other halwa with vegetables except for gajar halwa (carrot halwa). And I was on the look out for something simple but Indian to make at home for Diwali. And on seeing this recipe, I knew this one had to be it. On reading further, I found that she was using butternut squash, a North American variety which is not so common here, but I had seen it the last time I had gone to Edeka, a supermarket which usually has a large variety of things, including the lactose free milk products for my son I'm so thankful about and fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Now, these were not brought from some far off place but rather grown locally here, but still is something fancy with fancy prices too! But, I had made up my mind and went to buy my very first ever butternut squash and brought it home and began my experiment, which reallly turned out to be one.....!Before I continue, a very concise information on the health benefits of pumpkin is here at About.com. The main features are the high amounts of beta-carotines, a part of the pro vitamin A found in pumpkin, high amount of potassium - a very important mineral for a healthy cellular functioning, and it is high in fiberes. Although raw pumpkin also contain good amounts of Vitamin C, I'm not sure how much of it remains after cooking or baking. And I think it is a well known that pumpkin seeds have the repuation of helping against prostrate problems and incontinence.
Butternut Squash Halwa
Based on the recipe from Indira's Mahanandi
1 Butternut squash (1,6 kg), peeled and grated
3 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
1 1/2 l Milk (low fat lactose free)
2 cups sugar, or adjust to suit your taste
3 tbsp rosewater
1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight or in hot water for about 2 hours, and chopped
1/2 cup ground almonds with skin, readymade
- Cook the milk and sugar on medium low heat till it thickens and reduces to one fourth its quantity - mine became quite brown with time, maybe because I ket the heat to about medium high and later medium and while I cooked it in a deep pan I needed 1 1/2 hours instead of the 40 minutes as in the original recipe (explaination: Maillard reaction?!)
- In the mean while grate the squash
- grind the caradamom seeds to a fine powder and chop the almonds - I did not grind it to a fine paste like in the recipe, but used ready made ground almonds for it
- heat ghee in a large saute pan and cook the peeled and grated butternut squash in it till it turns yellowish and soft - I cooked it for very long and it had become quite soft, but mine never turned orange like in the original recipe
- Once done add the thickened brown khoya or kova to the pumpkin and the ground cardamom and almonds as well as the chopped almonds and the rose water and stir to mix evenly.
- My pumpkin had turned very soft and mushy and I had to cook it for another half an hour and later again for another half an hour bake in the oven at 120 °C and let cool in a slightly open oven till it thickens
- Place them on the table and let it cool down. Cut it into pieces - very soft pieces!
- Although I have cut it into pieces, it was so soft that one can only eat it with a fork or spoon and not with ones hands.
- It became quite sweet as I didn't take into consideration that at the end the quantity would reduce. One could easily reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup. But, it was just the way I actually like it!
I'm very happy to have made it for Diwali. Something I'm surely proud of, as I have never made something sweet with pumpkin before. And what I loved about Indira's recipe was the method of preparing the halwa. First prepare the thickened khoya and then after cooking the vegetable or fruit for short, be it pumpkin or whatever, mix the both. Genial! Unlike the way I know and have tried so far where you add everything together and cook it for very long. This is one way of cooking I'm surely going to adapt more often, for sure!
This recipe goes to Zlamushka's T&T event: Mahanandi.
And of course, how could I forget to send it to the Festival Jivha being hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons, which I was so happy to discover and A Fruit A Month (AFAM), an event started by Maheshwari of Beyond the Usual and being hosted this month by Madhuram.
And I just realised, now that it has turned brown, it would be a good entry for the event Food in colours: Brown at Sunshinemom's Tongueticklers for this month too! So, be it!
Now, the list of events to which this blog post is going is getting longer an longer!
But this one has to be, I feel, which I just saw and feel is very appropriate for this event:
Time to be Thankful at Ivy's Kopiaste