My Bollywood Days, A Dessert Memory: Carrot Pudding

carrot pudding


Important Note: This recipe comes with instructions for the puree kitchen: do not use it as is. Do not garnish with dried fruit and nuts. Bad for dysphagia.

I wrote the treatment for a film for a Bollywood director many years ago, long before the Bollywood craze hit the U. S with the arrival of the film Slumdog Millionaire.

It was winter, a beautiful time to be in India, especially in Mumbai (Bombay). India is a sauna in summer.

Juhu Beach, the film colony, is about an hour’s drive outside of the city. I was there at Divali, the Festival of Lights, when all of Mumbai is lit up and the party season is in full swing.

I stayed at a hotel not far from the director’s house, but he insisted that I take all my meals with his family and with the various starlets and actors, diplomats and tycoons, who were his friends. I was taken to parties and I ate at his home. I had a wonderful time and even saw an Indian wedding from my hotel room, with the groom coming on horse back to claim his bride. The colors were dazzling and the fragrance of tuberose rose in the air.

I even attended a party at the home of a billionaire arms dealer where the saris of the women were so magnificent that it almost blinded the eye and the jewels, my dear, the jewels, big square emeralds the size of a deck of cards displayed on the neck of a maharani, and the Rolls Royces parked for blocks at the entrance. Every color imaginable, bodyguards and drivers waiting outside the party. Not a drop of liquor was served at the party, as the host was an observant Hindu, and the party was dry. Even at that time, there were many wars in the region and an arms dealer could amass a fortune.

My friend, the director, was an Indian Muslim, but his was a cosmopolitan family and the kitchen staff, some of them, were Hindu.

That is how I came to eat this carrot pudding, also called carrot halwa. (Perhaps this name is better for it conjures up the Middle Eastern sweet made from sesame and honey.)

I can hear you objecting now, dear readers. Carrot pudding! Yuck! That sounds terrible!

Silly readers. You are in for a treat, a holiday delight from the Indian kitchen.

carrot pudding

Photo Credit: meeware1 via Compfight cc

I give you a link to a quickie version of this dessert. If you want the long version, you can search for it on YouTube.

TIP: To get the flavors of the dried fruit and the nuts into the pudding without risk to the swallow: Plump your green raisins in a little warm water for 30 minutes and add them at the beginning. Use cashew butter instead of cashews unless you add the cashews at the very beginning and allow them to cook soft with the carrots. Do not garnish with nuts and raisins, as these will not be tender enough in the puree.

Substitutions: White sugar is not ideal. Substitute 2 tables poons of honey for the sugar, as honey is sweeter, but adjust your sweetening to taste.

You may also substitute coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk for milk. You may use vegetable oil instead of clarified butter, bearing in mind that the richness of this dish comes from the butter.

If you follow the instructions, you will have a beautiful incredibly flavorful pudding that feels like a celebration, that feels like comfort food.

For the Puree

Wait until the pudding cools and is slightly warmer than room temperature.

Put a half cup to a cup into the bowl of a mini-food processor or the pitcher of a flat-bottomed blender. Pulse a few times, then puree until smooth.

This is delicious served warm. You may also serve it at room temperature. You can puree it with vanilla ice cream.

Photo Credit: operation_janet via Compfight cc