This Independence Day I have no Tri Colour dish to post. Instead I picked a very simple sweet dish made out of beets. This beetroot halwa is a cousin of the very popular carrot halwa or gajar ka halwa as we call it in Hindi. I had written about my low haemoglobin count and how I was trying to get it to normal levels. I read up a lot about how beets are simply magical to produce good blood in your system. Despite know about its health benefits we aren't so keen to eat beets cooked in anyway so there were plenty of times that they would hang around the fridge for days before they eventually got chucked into the bin (don't gasp, it's true). I finally decided I must put an end to that wasteful trend and went ahead and grated them up to be made into a nice halwa.
This recipe is super easy. I adapted my own carrot halwa recipe and decided to pressure cook the beets as I wanted to speed up the cooking process. The resultant halwa was a perfectly cooked sweet dish with its nutrients intact (or so I'd like to believe) as pressure cooking is known to retain the nutritional value of food unlike the traditional stove top method where you cook the halwa over a slow heat for hours. The best part of pressure cooking is that it is a huge time saver and also lets you be distracted and multi task. While the beets cooked I cleared up the kitchen and what not (this includes shooing away husband who popped his head a hundred times to check if the halwa was done)
Now, a slightly dramatic reason why I chose the beetroot halwa to be posted on the special occasion of India's 67th Independence Day is because of its colour. The beets represent the colour of blood - something that runs freely in all of us despite our cast, creed, social and economic standing. Despite 'blood' being the common denominator for all of us we as a nation are divided for several reasons. I won't elaborate and make this a depressing post. But I just hope we all remember that we are all the same at the end of the day so it's about time we ditched the animosity and worked towards creating a better nation, a safer place for our people.
Happy Independence Day!
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 25 mins | Serves 4
- 2 firmly packed cups of raw, grated beetroot (approx 4 small-medium sized beetroots washed, peeled & grated)
- 180 grams (2 tiny tins) sweetened condensed milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar (optional - for additional sweetness, adjust to taste)
- 1-1/2 cups milk (or 3/4th cup milk+3/4th cup water)
- 3 pods of cardamom powdered
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 2 tablespoons mixed nuts (cashew nut halves, almond slivers, chopped pistachios)
- 2 tablespoons ghee
1. Transfer the grated beetroot into the pressure cooker and add the milk (or the milk and water mixture), stir to combine and close the lid. Place the weight (whistle) and cook on a full flame until 2 whistles go off. Remove from heat and let the pressure cooker cool down to room temperature
2. When the weight loosens up, open the lid, stir the contents and if there is still a lot of liquid it it, place the cooker back on a low heat for the beets to cook again. Let the halwa simmer until the excess liquid evaporates and the beetroot is well cooked and the halwa thickens up. This should take about 10-12 minutes
3. Add the condensed milk and give it a good mix. Continue to simmer for another 3-4 minutes making sure to stir in between so that the halwa doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Check the taste and add the additional sugar only if required. (see notes)
4. While the halwa is simmering in another smaller pan heat the ghee. When it is hot (but not smoking) add the raisins and fry them till they puff up - remove quickly before they burn. In the same ghee add the mixed nuts and fry till they turn pale golden. Remove and keep aside.
5. Add the fried raisins, nuts and the powdered cardamom to the halwa. Mix once and
If you don't have a pressure cooker you can cook this in a regular pan (wide based, such as a kadhai/wok). It will take you longer though and will need you to be present to keep checking, stirring the contents. However, halwas made over a slow fire over a longer period of time are deemed more tasty.
When the beetroots are initially placed in the cooker you may add just about 1/2 a pinch of salt. The addition of salt helps to bring out the flavours more prominently.
Remember that beetroots may not be very sweet so you may need to add the sugar, however do not add the sugar when the halwa is piping hot - when the food is hot the taste buds are deceived into thinking that the sugar is less. Take a small amount of halwa and when it is cool enough, taste it and then add the additional sugar if required.