Cardamom Carrot Halwa To Light Up Your Family Table This Diwali

One of the best things about being an expat in Hong Kong is the diverse global community we find ourselves in.

At my son's preschool, there are kids from all over the world: France, India, South Africa, China, America, Lebanon and so on. As a result, the children are exposed to a range of cultural traditions, foods and festivals. It's a rich and special kind of education. 

The Indian festival of lights, known as Diwali, is around the corner. It will actually coincide with Halloween this year so there will be a lot of festive action in our household. 

Diwali symbolises the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, truth over ignorance. We will dust off and wear our Indian clothes, have traditional Indian fare, light tiny earthen lamps called diyas and eat loads of Indian desserts. Between the Diwali indulgence and the candy avalanche on Halloween, I am looking forward to the weekend's festivities with excitement and some trepidation. A little sugar never hurt anyone. Boatloads of it is another matter. 

So naturally, I've been hard at work conjuring up traditional Indian desserts that are healthier than the kind grandma made, without compromising on flavour and nostalgia. 

This cardamom-spiced carrot halwa meets my healthy and yumminess standards and maybe it's because kiddo never had great grandma's version, or maybe it's because he's been well trained by his mama ;), he loved it too. 

Shredded carrots softened in milk until they develop a fudge-like texture are mixed with luxurious, fragrant, floral cardamom. I used coconut sugar and raisins for their more gentle sweetening effects over white sugar and let the natural sugars of the carrots themselves shine. Topped with a few cashews for crunch, this dessert brings back memories of comfort, love and celebration with some nutrition to boot. 

I hope this recipe inspires you to bring the Light of Diwali to your family table. After all, it doesn't get much healthier than veggies for dessert, especially on a holiday weekend! 

With Love & Spice,
Kanchan
Your Chief Spice Mama

RECIPE

Healthy Carrot Halwa
Toddlers, Kids, Adults

Science Corner
Cardamom, another one of nature's miracle spices, possesses several health benefits corroborated by modern science. It has been shown to have 1) Anti-cancer activity 2) Digestion-boosting powers 3) Antibacterial capacity 4) Anti-nausea effects and 5) Cardioprotective benefits. 

Yield
4 servings

Ingredients
4 cups shredded carrots
2 cups whole milk (you can use almond milk if you prefer)
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
3 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground
1/4 cup raisins
4-5 cashew nuts coarsely chopped

Method
In a heavy bottom pan, bring the carrots and milk to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook, stirring often, until the milk has dried up, about 30 minutes.

Add the sugar and cardamom and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture dries even more into a fudge-like texture, about 10 minutes. Stir in the raisins.

Allow the halwa to cool a bit. Spoon into bowls and enjoy as a dessert, mid-afternoon snack or with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream for an extra decadent treat (maybe skip that version this coming weekend ;)).