For my first post of the fall season I have chosen this tasty and perfect for every occasion halva-ye haveej (carrot halva). I also wanted to share this recipe for more reasons besides it being simply delicious. In our house we are big fans of carrots. We like plain and raw carrot sticks and the idea of cooked carrots never appealed to me since my daughters have always disliked mushy carrots. However, this time I decided to do something different with some of the 10-pound bag of carrots in my refrigerator. For inspiration, I went to my feel-good, old Iranian cookbook! There may be many beautifully illustrated and well designed cookbooks with high-gloss covers out there but for me this unpretentious cookbook by Mansoureh Amir Ebrahimi that my mother gave me many years ago gives me a rare glimpse into the past where the traditional recipes could feed an army and kitchen gadgets such as measuring tools and scales were unheard of. I like to find those rare home-style recipes that were made in real kitchens by home-makers that simply wanted to feed their families healthy and delicious meals. As I leafed through the loose pages of the cookbook I was drawn to the simplicity of this healthy recipe that warms your heart on chilly autumn days. This is my second post from this cookbook. My first post was ash-e somagh (sumac soup).
The most popular halva in Iranian cuisine is made with wheat flour (preferably whole wheat). However, carrot halva is gluten free and dairy free but has the creamy texture of pudding. You can reduce the amount of sugar and butter further for a healthier dessert. I have more or less stayed true to the recipe but I had to reduce the amount of ingredients the recipe calls for and make a few minor changes. This is one of those recipes that is meant to be shared by sending a plate over to a friend, relative or neighbor.
2 pounds carrots, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 cup rice flour, sifted
1 1/2 cup sugar
4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons rose water
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons hot water
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
2-3 tablespoons pistachios (crushed)
2-3 tablespoons almonds (slivered) *optional
1 teaspoon crushed dried rose petals *optional
- Combine the sugar and 1-1/2 cups of water in a small pot, bring to a gentle boil on medium heat stirring well until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside.
- Place the shredded carrots in a pot, add 1-1/2 cups of water, cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 30-40 minutes or until carrots are soft.
- Mash the carrots using a hand masher, electric mixer or a fork for a smoother consistency.
- In a large sized skillet with a cover melt the butter over medium heat, add the sifted rice flour, stir frequently until the flour turns light golden brown.
- Add the mashed carrots to the rice flour. Mix well.
- Gradually pour the sugar syrup over the carrot and rice flour mixture. Add saffron, rose water and cardamom. Combine thoroughly. Cover and cook over low heat until the flavors come together for another 30 minutes.