FOOD & DRINK / A-Z of Treats: Halva

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H is for Halva, continuing our alphabet of sweet indulgences. This is an Indian carrot halva, more of a succulent sweetmeat than a conventional dessert, but it can be served as such with whipped

cream. The milk cooks down to nothing, leaving only the rich flavour of the milk's natural sugar, which is lactose.


Serves about 4

1lb carrots, scraped

1 1/2 pints milk

4oz sugar

5 cardamom pods

2oz (4 tablespoons) clarified butter

(or ghee or vegetable oil)

1oz sultanas

1oz shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

Grate the carrots. Put into a large non-stick frying pan (or large wide saucepan). Cover with milk, adding cardamom pods. Bring to the boil carefully and cook steadily until all the liquid boils away (half an hour to an hour). You can accelerate the process, increasing heat gradually when fear of boiling over recedes.

Remove the pale-coloured carrot mixture. Heat the butter in the same pan, return the mixture, and cook gently, stirring well, for 10-15mins until reddish-brown.

Stir in the sugar and cook a few minutes until dissolved. Stir in the sultanas and the nuts (if the pistachios aren't crisp, dry them in a pan without oil over a low heat).

Spread the thick, pasty mixture on a buttered dish, and pat into a cake 3/4 in thick. Decorate with pistachio nuts if you like. Serve cold.