And after bidding a delicious farewell to the summer squash in my previous post, here is EFS saying a big hello to the winter squash aka pumpkin, with a variety of Indian spices added to glam up its flavours. Spiced halwa sounds odd. Isn’t it? Especially when you learn that these flavours happen to be the earthy cumin and whole black peppers of all! Yet, odd as it sounds, the spices blend pretty well in this halwa adding surprising flavors. A wee bit kick of heat from the peppers, the earthiness of cumin and the fragrant woody green cardamom – all hold up beautifully against the sweetness of pumpkin.
This is heirloom recipe, one that has travelled down generations from my mother’s side of the family. I believe this halwa recipe was probably developed keeping in mind not just the flavors but also the benefits that the spices add to the much needed protection against the changing weather. I am heavily biased towards saffron and could not help adding a pinch of it (which is sufficient btw) for color and of course for the lovely warm flavour. Feel free to omit or add any spice you would like – cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds; basically whatever fancies you. Pumpkins seem to be great friends with spices so your favourite one will probably be well accepted, I believe.
One last input here – the original recipe did not use milk at all and instead relied heavily on ghee (¾ C) for cooking the pumpkin & also for imparting richness to it. I deviated from that and swapped a substantial amount of ghee with milk (just as I did for this Carrot Fudge and added just a few table spoons of ghee to roast the pumpkins. I saw a beautiful pumpkin trifle a few months back and that triggered the desire to add some oomph to this halwa which I did by dressing it up with some whipped cream. It certainly took the yummy factor a few notches up. After putting in nearly one and half hour of cooking, the gorgeous looking halwa with fabulous taste was richly rewarding. However, next time around, I intend to reduce the time and effort involved by swapping half the amount of milk with some khoya.
For this halwa, you will need…
3 tbsp melted Ghee (+/- as desired)
½ tsp Black Pepper corns
½ tsp Cumin seeds
7 C (loosely packed)/ 750-800 grams approx shredded Pumpkin (I could procure it from a kilo of pumpkin)
700 mls Milk
A pinch Saffron
½ tsp crushed Cardamom seeds (adjust to taste)
4tbsp granulated Sugar
Nuts or pumpkin seeds (optional)
Warm the ghee in a heavy/thick bottom pan or wok and add the pepper corns. Fry for 10-15 seconds. Next add cumin seeds and without giving it a chance to crackle, immediately mix in the shredded pumpkin. Add in two tablespoons of granulated sugar. This helps to draw out the water from pumpkin and also to give a bit of caramelization.
Keep cooking and stirring on medium high heat for approximately 20 minutes.
Add in the milk and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low since the pumpkin contents will splutter on higher heat. Gently stir in the saffron strands.
Keep an eye on the contents and keep stirring once in a while to avoid the contents from catching at the bottom and burning.
Half way through cooking, add the crushed cardamom seeds. Allow the pumpkin to absorb all the liquid.
Add the dry fruit (if using) &keep frying till the pumpkin starts coming together as one mass. Take the halwa off the heat and allow it to warm down before serving. Serve garnished with nuts or pumpkin seeds.
Note: You do not need to finely shred the pumpkin.
Note: I believe that you can probably roast the pumpkin in oven and use the pureed flesh to make the halwa.
Note: The amount of saffron will depend on the quality and strength of aroma of the saffron. I used the Kashmir variety that imparts rich colour & flavour.
Note: The amount of sugar required will depend on the sweetness of the pumpkin.
Note: The halwa can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.
Note: Any variety of winter squash should work well for this halwa.
Note: This dessert can be made a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated.
You may like to try these recipes…
Petha Kalakand (Cottage Cheese Pumpkin Fudge)
Spicy Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes
More Halwa recipes to try:
Aate ka Halwa (Wholemeal Pudding)
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