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Carrot And Coconut Halwa...

Carrot and Coconut Halwa

Halwa is a popular sweet across India, the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. There are different types of halwa. Some use flour or nut butters as a base but my all time favourite are the halwa that use carrots, pumpkins or yams (sweet potato).

Over the weekend I was looking for something to accompany my large mug of tea and decided it was time to try Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for carrot and coconut halwa.

It ended up being a bit more labour intensive for me then I would have liked for a Sunday afternoon but as I sit here tucking into my 3rd halwa of the day I am delighted I made the effort.

The main work is grating all the carrots. After working my way through 1kg of carrots I made the decision to halve the recipe. I was seriously in danger of never wanting to see another carrot again. (I halved everything but the toasted pistachios and almonds but strangely I still ended up with 20 halwa)

Once the grating is done the recipe is easy but you do need time to let everything cook down. My timing was off somewhere as it took me almost triple the amount of time and still the liquid hadn’t completely evaporated. It hasn’t affected the taste or texture of the halwa though so I must have done something right.

If you have never tried halwa please do give it a try. It really is a wonderful delicacy and with all those carrots it has to be good for you!

Here is Gordon Ramsay’s recipe from his book World Kitchen

Carrot and Coconut Halwa (makes 18-20)


2kg carrot, peeled

500ml evaporated milk

500g granulated sugar

50g unsalted butter

2 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and finely crushed

25g toasted pistachio nuts, finely chopped

25g toasted almonds, finely chopped

50g desiccated coconut, lightly toasted


Coarsely grate the carrots and put them into a large heavy-based sauce pan with the evaporated milk and granulated sugar

Bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer

Cook for 35-45 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the milk has evaporated and the carrot is quite dry (This didn’t happen for me)

Add the butter to the sauce pan and increase the heat slightly to roast the grated carrots (my carrots ended up being stewed rather than roasted)

Cook for a further 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture is dry

When it leaves the sides of the pan clean, take off the heat and stir in the crushed cardamom seeds and chopped nuts

Transfer the mixture to a wide dish and leave to cool completely, then chill for at least an hour to allow it to firm up more

With wet hands, roll the mixture into neat round balls, then roll each ball in the toasted coconut to coat all over

The halwa are now ready to serve

They will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week


If you don’t have a copy of Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen I highly recommend it. There are a wide variety of inspirational dishes from around the world. The photos by Chris Terry are stunning and the recipes are easy to follow.

Indian Feast Continued: Dal Soup, Saag Paneer and ...

It’s been a busy and exciting week. A wildlife expert came around to assess my garden for the Kent Wildlife Garden Award Scheme (more on that later). I’ve been busy finishing up an excellent writing course at Savvy Authors and I have had new clients for my Reflexology and Aromatherapy practice.

This weekend has brought more rain so I felt it was time to write about the other 3 dishes my husband and I prepared for our Indian Feast last weekend.

Dal Soup is a firm favourite and my husband decided this was his dish to make. He used a recipe found in a book my mum bought ages ago in a local charity shop; ‘Cooking for Today. Indian Vegetarian Cooking,’ by Louise Steele This is an excellent book full of a wide range of easy to make delicious food.

Dal Soup

Here is the recipe from Louise’s book.

Dal Soup


250g / 8oz chana dal or yellow split peas, soaked

1.25 litres / 2 pints water

½ tsp turmeric

1 onion chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp vegetable oil (my husband used olive oil)

½ tsp mustard seeds

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 dried chillies, seeded and chopped (my husband used 2 fresh red chillies)

250g / 8oz canned chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper


Drain and rinse the lentils then place in a pan with the water and turmeric. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. (NOTE: Keep a sharp eye on the pot as it overflowed a few times creating quite a mess!)

Add the onion and cumin, stir, cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop add the chillies and tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the contents of the pan to the lentils. Stir well, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

NOTE: There was no mention of when to add the garlic so my husband added it to the mustard seeds, chillies and tomatoes.

Paneer Cheese

Saag Paneer is a beautiful combination of spinach, paneer cheese and spices.

This recipe from the Indian Food Site is quick and easy to follow.

Saag Paneer serves 2-4


1 kg/2 lbs spinach

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tbsp chickpea flour (NOTE: This is also called Gram Flour – I didn’t realize this and stood next to a huge stack of it while asking a shop assistant where all the chickpea flour was)

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 onion chopped

salt to taste

¼ tsp chilli powder

½ lbs or ¼ kg paneer

2 tbsp heavy cream

¼ cup oil (I used olive oil)

3 tbsp ginger julienned (I just chopped mine into little chunks)

2-3 tbsp fresh coriander


Chop spinach and set aside

Heat oil, add cumin while heating. When oil starts to crackle, add garlic and onion, sauté until light brown, then add chickpea flour and mix well to avoid lumps

Cook until oil emerges, then add spinach, and sauté until pan is dry

Add salt, chilli powder and paneer, finish with cream and serve garnished with julienned ginger and fresh coriander

Saag Paneer and Chicken Pulao and Rotis

We bought some basmati rice but wanted to do something a bit more adventurous then just steaming it. On the same Indian Food Site (which is brilliant and definitely worth checking out) I found a recipe for Chicken Pulao.

I have to confess I was very VERY pleased with the way this dish turned out. The spices came through beautifully. It really was like something you would get in a restaurant. The great thing was that it was all done in one pan. If you decide to make one dish then I strongly recommend this one.



(2 Ib 3 oz) 1 kg chicken

1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 2 hours

2 onions finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 green chillies, finely chopped

2 red chillies

1 cinnamon stick

3 black cardamoms

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp garam masala

6 peppercorns

2 cups water

salt to taste

leaves from 2 sprigs coriander

¼ cup cashew nuts

4 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)


Heat the oil in a non stick pan

Put in chopped onions. Fry till the onions turn transparent

Add garlic and ginger

Add black cardamoms, cinnamon stick, green and red chillies

Add coriander and cumin powder, salt to taste and stir-fry for 3 minutes

Add pieces of chicken

Stir fry for 5 minutes or until chicken has golden brown colour

Add basmati rice and 2 cups of water. Cover the pan and let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until all water has evaporated

Transfer the rice to serving dish. Garnish with cashew nuts and coriander leaves


I hope you try making some (or all) of these dishes for your very own Indian feast at home. My husband and I had lots of fun preparing them and even more fun eating them!

Simple Mint Chutney and Homemade Rotis...

Fresh Mint

It was a stay in doors kind of weekend so my husband and I decided to spend some extra time in the kitchen cooking up an Indian feast. We wanted to give ourselves a bit of a challenge but honestly these dishes were much easier then we thought.

What can become labour intensive is preparing the wide variety of herbs and spices you need. But with all those wonderful smells wafting about the kitchen – it’s more a labour of love.

Indian cuisine is one of our favourites. Any opportunity we have either locally or on our travels to try some – we jump at the chance. Of course we have had some great experiences:

• Early morning pumpkin rotis from a family run news agents on the campus of the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji

• Homemade samosas and pakoras being passed through a city bus window by street vendors in Nadi Fiji

• The first time we ever tried king prawn korai at a local restaurant

And we have had some not so wonderful experiences:

• A super spicy chilli parantha in Singapore which was so hot that not even 3 mango lassis each could put out the fire on our tongues

• Sag Paneer made at a different local restaurant which was made with cheddar cheese instead of paneer (sigh..I can still taste the disappointment)

• Soggy poppadoms (UNFORGIVEABLE!!!)

This weekend we prepared a few dishes including mint chutney, rotis, dahl soup, sag paneer and chicken pulao. Just to keep things simple I will break the menu up. So today I am just posting the recipe for the mint chutney and rotis.

They work wonderfully together and the mint chutney just gets better over time so make extra! You can also add the mint chutney to the other dishes as well.

I found the mint chutney recipe on this very informative and helpful site and the roti recipe on this site which gives wonderfully clear instructions.

Mint Chutney

Mint Chutney


A handful of fresh mint leaves (I used loads from my garden)

2 tsp garlic paste (I crushed 3 garlic cloves)

2-3 green chillies (I used 3 and it was HOT so think about what you can handle)

½ tsp tamarind paste

½ tsp white sugar

1 tsp water

Salt to taste


Wash and clean the mint and pluck the leaves from the stems

Put the leaves in a mixer and give them a whizz for bout 2-3 minutes to squeeze out the juice (there wasn’t a lot of excess juice for me)

Once the juice is drained off add the remaining ingredients to the mixer and whizz until smooth (it never went smooth for me but the texture was actually very nice)


Rotis (makes approx 13)


200g Medium Wholemeal Flour (I used white chapati flour)

150ml luke warm water

2 Tablespoons oil (I know it isn’t ideal but I only had olive oil – it worked well)

Ghee or butter to spread (I used butter)

Plain flour to dust


Take a mixing bowl and add the flour and oil

Mix the two together with your hands and whilst kneading gradually pour in the water. (The final amount of water required will be dependent on the absorbency of level of the flour so leave a little until you have mixed the flour well. Add remaining 50ml if you want a softer mix. A softer dough allows you to produce a much thinner and pliable roti that will not crack at the edges when cooked. However soft roti dough is hard to roll without some skill so practise a few times before hosting a dinner party!)

Knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes. The dough should be smooth and pliable, cover and allow to relax for 10-15 minutes

Apply a teaspoon of oil onto your palms and knead once more, very briefly. Divide the dough into 13 equal parts. Each portion should be about the size of a ping-pong ball

Before you start to roll, dust each flattened ball with plain flour and use a rolling pin to make a thin circle measuring about 14-15cm in diameter. (The trick to a perfect roti is to ensure that it rolled out evenly. Do not grip the rolling pin too tightly. Place the palms of your hands on the tapered edges of the rolling pin and let the roti almost roll itself. It does not matter how long it takes for you to roll the roti- the result should be smooth and even. A common failing when rolling is to press too hard at the centre giving a roti that is thin in the middle and thicker on the edges. This leads to uneven cooking)

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Place your roti into it.

As soon as you can see little bubbles appear on its surface – usually within 30 seconds – turn it over onto the other side. Cook the other side for 30 seconds. Then place it under a preheated grill or directly onto the fire to bloat – little brown specks will appear on the surface. (Turn it over during bloating. (The preferred method to bloat the rotli varies from household to household. Many use a pair of smooth tongs (chipyo), some use a mesh grill and yet others place it under the grill. The key is to get air into the rotli to make it soft and pliable)

Place your cooked roti in a plate and smear with a little melted ghee or butter

Make all the rotis in the same way and stack them on top of each other. Keep them covered with a clean tea towel, NOT a container, as steam given off by hot rotis will dampen the rest


Here are some great sites for Indian recipes:

Indian Foods Co

Indian Food

Recipes Indian

Indian Food Forever