Pakistani Carrot Rice Pudding / Gajrela (Gajar Ki Kheer)

It’s that time of the month again- Muslim Food Bloggers Challenge Reveal Day! This month was special because it marked the end of one year since these challenges began. The theme of this month was to go back and revisit a past challenge of our choice. It could be one that we missed, or one that we wanted to do again. I chose to combine two-

  1. Share a Pakistani recipe.
  2. Share a recipe from a Muslimah blogger.

I’m sharing a recipe for Pakistani Carrot and Rice Pudding, also called Gajrela (or gajar ki kheer). The recipe is actually from a vlogger who shares videos on her youtube channel- Cook With Faiza. I love her recipes because they are authentic and her demeanor is very approachable.

I made this recipe over the summer while I was visiting my family in California. While I was there, my mom and I hosted a surprise anniversary party for my brother and sister in-law (she is more sister than in-law. Love you SaraMaa!). I was originally going to share this recipe back in September for the monthly challenge. Imagine my surprise when I saw that Rafeeda from The Big Sweet Tooth had posted the same dish! Ha! At the last moment I decided to go with something else that was a regional specialty (Karachi Bun Kababs). Truly, great minds do think alike 😉

Anyway, this recipe is very special to Pakistani cuisine, and with the coming cooler months, it is even more special. Enjoy!

Check out all the yummies everyone is sharing this month by clicking on the graphic below!

 

 

Gajrela

Yield: 10-12 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups whole milk
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup basmati rice, ground coarsely
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • Handful sliced almonds or pistachios

Directions:

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat milk over medium heat until it comes to a low boil, stirring often to prevent the milk from burning. Add grated carrots and stir. Once the milk returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the carrots have softened considerably, about 20 to 30 minutes. Be sure to stir often.

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and ground cardamom. Add sugar mixture to carrots and mix well. Add ground rice and condensed milk and mix until thoroughly combined. Cook, while stirring often to prevent burning, until significantly reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes. Add sliced nuts and remove from heat.

Gajrela can be served warm or cold. Garnish with additional sliced nuts, if desired.

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Carrot Cardamom Cake (aka Gajar Ka Halwa Cake!)

I love having some type of loaf cake (or quick bread) on hand at home. It’s nice having something to munch alongside a cup of tea, and it seems as if my son has inherited his momma’s love for these types of baked goods as well 🙂

I have made this cake (recipe from Playful Cooking) several times, and it is always well received. It is a carrot loaf, infused with cardamom flavor. I like to think that it is the cake version of Gajar Ka Halwa (carrot halwa)!

 

 

Carrot Cardamom Cake

(Gajar Ka Halwa Cake)

Yield: 1 Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a greased loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs. Add oil and whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until it just comes together. Fold in shredded carrots.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, between 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

World Cancer Day- Carrot Halwa

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Cancer- The word itself can bring one down to their knees.  Today is World Cancer Day, and today I will finally share how cancer has affected me and my family.

***

The afternoon of June 18th, 2009, less than one year after I getting married, I received a call from my dad that would ultimately change my outlook on life altogether.  He had previously been suffering from horrible headaches, and his doctor hadn’t taken his claims too seriously.  He would advise my father to take Tylenol or Motrin, but nothing seemed to help.  As luck would have it, while on a trip to visit his family in Pakistan, Papa had tripped and fallen on a set of stairs, resulting in a few stitches near his eyebrow.  Upon returning home, his pain hadn’t subsided, so finally his doctor decided that it was time for more testing, just to make sure that he hadn’t broken or fractured anything, or that he didn’t have any internal bleeding.  A mass that appeared on Papa’s x-ray alarmed his physician, and after more testing, my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.  My father, my loving Papa, called me on June 18th, 2009, to tell me that he had Stage III Multiple Myeloma, and to not tell Mom.  He would tell her himself.

The following weeks have become a blur of flights back to California, doctors’ visits, intense chemotherapy regimens, health insurance issues, tears, and fear.  Medical terminology that at one point in time meant nothing to us had become part of our everyday language.  All of us were walking on eggshells, but we kept a brave face for Papa.  Mom would hide in the garage and cry, while my brother would try to hold back his own tears to console her.  To this day I haven’t watched my wedding video, because I fear that it would remind me of our days before Cancer.

On April 30th, 2010, my father underwent an autologous bone marrow transplant.  We referred to that date as Papa’s new birthday.  From that day, until October 2012, Papa was in remission.  Since then, the cancer has begun to slowly creep back up, but the doctors have been able to keep in under control with the help of new and experimental medications.

No one thinks that they’re going to get cancer.  I used to hear about friends whose loved ones were dealing with it, but I never thought that we would have to face it.  Cancer seemed far away.  Others dealt with it, Not us, I used to think.  Then one day out of the blue, Cancer made its grand appearance.

I’m not going to lie, in the beginning we all were scared.  We all cowered in fear of Cancer.  But then something happened. We all decided that we weren’t going to be afraid.  We were going to face Cancer together, and we were going to be strong.  The strength and positivity my parents presented and continue to show have given new meaning to the word “Heroes” to our family.  My Papa and Mummi are my biggest inspirations, and I hope and pray that I am able to carry on their positive outlook on life into my own.

The reason I’m sharing our personal story about our fight against Cancer is to show you that you’re not alone.  Sure, it is really scary.  And you know what, there are days when we fear the worst.  But know that we’re in this fight together, and together we will kick Cancer’s ass, God willing.  For those of you reading, please take just one moment to send some positive vibes and prayers to those who are in this fight.

To learn more about Multiple Myeloma and to see how you can help or receive help, please visit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.  To learn more about Cancer and to see how you can help or receive help, please visit the American Cancer Society.

***

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is Carrot Halwa, or Gajar ka Halwa, and it is one of my dad’s favorite desserts.  My mom would make a large amount at once, and then freeze a portion of it for later.  The consistency of hers is a bit different than the one I am sharing, as her’s was a more dry Halwa that she would cut into diamonds.  I’ve adapted my recipe from Sinfully Spicy, and although it is time-consuming, it is completely worth it and very homely 🙂

GajarHalwaPic

Gajar Ka Halwa

Yield:  4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup oil, divided
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 ¾ cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar, to taste
  • Toasted unsalted nuts, for garnish

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large vessel over medium heat.  Add shredded carrots and mix well.  Allow the carrots to cook for 20 to 25 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Add warm milk to the carrots and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the milk has evaporated.  Stir occasionally, and reduce heat if you notice that the mixture is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once the milk has dried, add remaining oil and cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Add cardamom powder and sugar and mix well.  Cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar has melted and been completely incorporated into the Halwa.  Garnish with nuts.

Halwa can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Mom’s Carrot Pickle/Relish – Mummi’s Gajar Achar

It’s funny how when we live at home with our parents we take so much for granted.  It’s only after I got married a little over 4 years ago that I realized how much I would come to miss my mom’s cooking.  Her everyday meals, the kinds that I would otherwise say to, “not that again!” are the kinds that I miss the most.  When I went to visit California this past January, I made it a point to grab a notebook and pen, and write down recipes to many of her dishes.  I also made it a point to hand my mom a teaspoon because she likes to cook by andaaza (translation: estimating/eyeballing it) and there is no way I can recreate her culinary goodness by andaaza LOL.

This carrot pickle/relish, or gajar achar, is a condiment that was almost always present when I was growing up.  We love to have it as a side with almost any Indian/Pakistani main meal.  It’s very easy to whip up and keeps very well in the refrigerator.

 

MummisGajarAcharPic

 

Mummi’s Gajar Achar

Yield:  3 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Handful cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Combine carrots, coriander powder, red chili powder, salt, and ginger-garlic paste.  Use hands to massage spices into the carrots.  Add oil and cilantro and mix well.  Refrigerate for a few hours before servings.