Sweet carrot dessert with saffron and orange zest and my first guest post!

Have you read the book 'Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri? I am sure some of you have probably seen the movie. The movie is very well done but like with any other good books I feel the movie is no match to the book. In a nutshell the book traces the story of a second generation Indian-American son's (named Gogol Ganguli) coming of age years.

The movie is named namesake because Gogol is named after the memory of a rare near-death accident that occurred in his father's life before his father moved to America. Name 'Gogol' for his father resonates with a new beginning, the fact that he survived, the fact that he moved to US and made a new home for his family, a start of all good things! Gogol though is confused and awkward about his identity and heritage. He quite can not have the same feeling of 'home' towards India but at the same time feels a deep void and a disconnect with the western world surrounding him - even his name does not seem his own to him. 
He is a namesake for his parents lives and times. The book is about Gogol's journey trying to find where he fits, where his roots are and confronting the biggest questions about his identity. The book so delicately describes the subtleties of an immigrant life!

Anyway, where am I am going with the Namesake and carrot dish... see, I thought for a long time what to name this dish. When I made it I was craving carrot halwa but wanted something much more light, carroty and not creamy or buttery.. so hence came this dish. (Carrot halwa traditionally is prepared by cooking grated carrots in butter and whole milk until the mixture thickens, then some flavorings and sugar are added).

Instead of following the original recipe, I very lightly sauteed carrots in a non-fat milk and water. The sugar is just enough to bring out the carrot taste without being sweet while cardamom and nutmeg are the real behind the scenes stars of this dish. Orange zest adds this delicate citrusy undertones that show up once in a while right when you least expecting it and a good quality saffron for me just pulls the whole dish together! Overall, the dish was light, refreshing, flavorful and surely a guilt-free delight!

I was thinking of naming this dish healthy carrot halwa but I was worried of the inherent comparison I was inviting with the more ubiquitous creamy and rich carrot halwa dish.. see, you will love this dish if you eat it as is, but if you think of this is carrot halwa and eat it then you may surely miss the creaminess and the sugar... its almost like by naming this dish carrot halwa I would impart it with the missing of cream and butter instead of showcasing the stars which are sweet carrot flavors lightly spiced with nutmeg, cardamom and saffron... so, see namesake has its perils, right?

Anyway, enough of my senseless blabber.. lets get to the recipe!

Source: something I put together adapting traditional carrot halwa recipe
4 fresh medium-large carrots (3C packed shredded) -- fresher the carrots, the better!
3 pods cardamom - crushed coarsely with the back of a spoon
1/4C non-fat milk
1/2C water
pinch of saffron
pinch of nutmeg
1 cardamom pod - crushed
2Tbsp sugar
1tsp orange zest (or lemon zest)
few dried cranberries (or dried raisins)
1Tbsp toasted slivered almonds (or any nuts)
1tsp butter

  1. Shred carrots using a shredder. I got around 3C shredded carrots from my 4 carrots.
  2. Heat butter in a non-stick pan. When medium hot, add cardamom pods and fry for a minute.
  3. Add shredded carrots and fry for a few minutes on medium high.
  4. Add milk, water and sugar. With heat on medium high continue to cook until all the liquid disappers (10-15mins). Keep stirring regularly.
  5. When the liquid has almost disappeared add orange zest, nutmeg, cardamom and saffron and mix well.
  6. Remove from heat. Add dried cranberries (or raisins) and almonds and serve warm or cold!
Compared to the traditional carrot halwa recipe this one has very little ghee and little milk (non-fat). Then carrots are not thoroughly cooked like the halwa recipes.. instead they are lightly sauteed in their own juices for 10-15mins. Carrots still had a bit of their crunch left in the final dish.
I am sending this over to Joanne for this week's BSI - carrots.
My first guest-post
Deepa from the wonderful blog Foodlyrics had been gracious enough to give me a chance for my very first guest post at Foodlyrics. Thanks Deepa for this awesome opportunity. I thought for a long time about what to write and then settled finally on relating some of my food memories. This topic of how food invokes such strong memories in us and how people relate each other with food as a center-piece has always been near and dear to my heart and it sure was a lot of fun doing a guest post for Deepa. You can read all about it on her blog here.


  1. Lovely carrot treat PJ. Looks fantastic with an orange and saffron twist. Congrats on you guest post.

  2. Sweet carrot desert looks delicious and mouth watering. Great combo. Thanks for this lovely recipe.

  3. Dear,
    This variation looks gorgeous an zesty with a new twist -nutmeg. Quite Ingenious, I would say!Dear, a typo - I think the event is BSI

    Yes, I did see that movie and it was all right!

    Happy Weekend!

  4. Lovely twist to the usual carrot halwa, looks beautiful & so very tempting...

  5. Fantastic carrot halwa healthy way..looks tempting and pics just too good!!

  6. Latha, thanks! I am so glad you liked the carrot treat. The guest post was such fun :)

    Babli, thanks! Carrot halwa is one of my favorite treats too.

    Cool Lassie(e), oh, good catch! i was wondering what the E would stand for :D Happy weekend to you too!

    Sushma, thanks! I am so glad you liked this twist on carrot halwa.

    Jagruti, thanks! I am so glad you liked the halwa and the pics,

  7. I read Namesake and liked it but I like the other Jhumpa Lahiri books better. Unaccustomed earth and the other short story one.

  8. Hi. Very unusual twist to the gajar halwa, I am trying to imagine flavours. The click is very nice too.

  9. Wow..carrot halwa turns out beautifully and healthy, great presentation too...

  10. That's a gorgeous halwa namesake. I enjoy all of Jhumpa Lahiri's writing. I think she has a way of capturing poignant moments in ordinary life.

  11. bravo for this masterpiece i am not used for carrots in dessert but why not !! Cheers from paris Pierre

  12. Amita, yeah, same here.. I like her other books more, but namesake is a nice read the first time around.

    Pari, thanks! It tasted really nice, not creamy and very sweet was the only difference from gajar ka halwa, but i liked it as a light dessert.

    Treat and Trick, thanks! I liked this light carrot halwa take on the days with heavy dinner :)

    Nupur, oh I so agree. I was just telling Amita above that her best work seems to be the short story collections like Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed earth. She has her way with human emotions and relationships. I so much love to (re)read the very first story of Interpreter of Maladies, one where the couple reconnects when electricity goes out.

    Pierre, I love carrot desserts.. particularly when they are fresh from the farm.. they are so sweet themselves, make perfect dessert companions :)

  13. This is amazing...i love this post and ur fantastic combis and twists and the way u put it all together...all the best with the BSI ,i still have to read what it is about....and ur blabber is never anything close to senseless....quite the contrary ...u rock babes...
    have a fantastic weekend PJ

  14. Mia, thanks! okay, to be honest your best of all luck caught me a bit surprised.. i had thought BSI was like a Jihva for ingredient kind of event :D heh heh, didn't know it was more of a competition kind! it'll be fun either way though :) I am so glad you liked the healthy carrot halwa. Have a great weekend ahead.

  15. PJ, healthy is good but I like the carrot halwa where the carroty taste is all gone. Does this one still retain some of its carrotness?

    Namesake(the movie, haven't read the book) bothered me a bit with Tabu's perpetually sad face.

  16. Wow! I love this avatar of carrot halwa! Lovely:)
    I have read the book Namesake and have seen the movie too...but like you, I feel, the movie is no match to the book...
    Have a great weekend PJ!

  17. Nice variant of gajar ka halwa...I love the nutmeg flavor added to the light dessert. I love jhumpa Lahiri. I have read all of her books. She captures the inner most feelings (dark,illicit and secretive ones) so well with her words. I feel interpreter of maladies was her best work though.

  18. Indo, the dish was very carroty when done.. yeah, if you like the halwa with all the carrot taste done then the traditional halwa will be a preferred dish surely; I am opposite, I love the dish to retail as much carroty taste as possible :) thats exactly why the movie wasn't the best for me.. it only portrays one emotions of each character while in the book there are sketches of such complex personalities.

    Rachana, so agree; movie is good as is, but if you read the book, the author really is best describing all the delicate feelings and relations and so forth which is not that well defined in the movie.

    Preeti, i loved the nutmeg too! like it in most desserts. Oh yeah, interpreter of maladies was by far the best, i like the first story of the book where the couple reconnects when the electricity goes out.. so touching story!

  19. Yummy and light carrot desert PJ, I simply love the spice combi you have used here.

  20. Nice healthy carrot halwa PJ, looks really great and ur guest post is awesome too. The curry looks so tempting and I am bookmarking in my to do list.

  21. Hi Pj, forgot to tell your abt your gurest post...was wonderful and loved it,unique in its own way...

  22. Raje, thanks! I am so glad you liked the dessert and the spice combo there :)

    Pavithra, thanks! I had such a fun writing that guest post and the curry is one of my all-time favorite currys.

    Sushma, oh, thanks so much for stopping by again :) I am so happy you liked the guest post, it was a lot of fun writing it!

  23. I went through your blog. You have a lovely collections and I loved every picture.

  24. I have 4 little suprises for u on the link below .which jus might be the last at VAnillaStrawberrySpringfields co z i'll be moving to BSM soon....
    So do hop and see why i think u are a fantastic, creative blogger and my happy pals...cheers and so do hope u enjoy it too....

  25. thats a perfect guilt free dessert like the idea of adding oranges and saffron. the book you talked about is my favourite one and though loved the movie but the book still haunts me and I could easily relate to it.

  26. What a wonderful recipe you have created. It looks stunning too! I like that you tried to bring out the natural sweetness of the carrots without adding too much sugar to make it sweet. You really think things through. All the flavors sounds great.

    Congratulations on your guest post. I am still too shy to do that. Good for you!

  27. Pedhakka, thanks and welcome to my blog! I am so glad you liked the space and the pics here. I hope to see you again soon.

    Mia, aha, i like surprises! I am off to visit yours now! Congratulations on the new space and looking forward to seeing lots more delicious recipes there.

    Sayantani, the book is really very good, you must have liked it even more because all of her characters are bengali; i always wish she would pick some Marathi characters next :)

    Lyndsey, thanks! I am so glad you liked the recipe and the post. I love the carroty taste of this dish. Thanks for the guest post, I had so much fun writing it, you should do it too, its just a lot of fun :)

  28. Yeah have read Namesake and liked the book, but I agree the movie didnt do justice to the book, as most of the movies do.

    hey the carrot halwa looks so tasty and really a guilt free indulgence..

  29. Hey, sorry to comment as a last person. Actually yesterday i was away from my pc.
    I love your Namesake carroty halwa. Pics are so good.

    And you used only 2 tbsp sugar? Did your halwa crunchy? I love warm carrot halwa. My mom makes very very tempting halwa. :)

    Namesake: this book is in queue for reading. I have borrowed from library and is waiting for turn. :)

  30. Deepa, yeah, the movie was so okay compared to the book. So glad you liked the halwa.

    Sonia, hey, no problem! i am always so glad to hear from you :) yes, sugar was very less because mostly i relied on the fresh carrot and the carroty taste. halwa was not mushy. carrots still had a bite at the end. Mom's halwa is always the best, isn't it :) If its your first Jhumpa Lahiri book, then I'll probably suggest Interpreter of Maladies before Namesake.. its a short stories book and by far is my favorite Jhumpa Lahiri book.

  31. Hi PJ, thanks a lot for your book suggestion. I really didn't know abt it. :)

  32. Very nice site. Color combinations and fonts are great.

    Excellent write up and beautiful pictures.

    Recipes..need to be tried as you say..

  33. At first I thought its just a blog review of Namesake but loved the way you have associated it with your healthy version of Halwa !

    Btw wonderful presentation n nice snaps :)

  34. Sonia, no problem! hope you like the book.

    A, thanks and welcome to my blog! I am so glad you liked the post and the pictures. Do let me know if you try some of the recipes :)

    Padhu, thanks! I am so glad you liked the carrot halwa.

    Kanchan, thanks! I have read the book a long time ago, this time I was just thinking what to name this dish and the book came back to me.. so whatever blabber i was thinking, i ended up writing about it :)

  35. Love this lighter carrot halwa with the mellowness of zest and saffron :D

  36. Such a luxurious touch with all the saffron scattered around the halwa.

  37. That's a wonderful treat PJ :-)I agree with Cham on the saffrom strands :D
    Yet to read Jhumpa Lahiri, of course I have seen the movie, but as you said haven't seen any movies except "love at the time of cholera" which has done at least 80% justice to the novel :-)

  38. Yasmeen, thanks! I am so glad you like the halwa with orange zest and saffron.

    Cham, thanks! Saffron was something I absolutely loved too.. its one of my favorite spice for the carrot halwa.

    Gulmohar, aha, now I haven't seen that movie, I should rent it soon :)

  39. wow prajakta lovely carrot dessert..loved ur varaiton of lot...nutmeg vl gv it a nice flavour

  40. Hi PJ, That looks really yummy! I read your guest post which was great too! I havent read Namesake but have read Interpreter of Maladies and loved it.

  41. Hi PJ, That looks really yummy! I read your guest post which was great too! I havent read Namesake but have read Interpreter of Maladies and loved it.

  42. Siddhi, thanks! I am so glad you liked it. yes, i love nutmeg too.. i have recently started appreciating its slightly stronger taste. otherwise, i would always prefer cardamom over nutmeg.

    Radhika, thanks! I actually like Interepreter of maladies much better than namesake. love that first story with the couple trying to reconnect through the loss of electricity.

  43. nice carrot treat for carrot lovers

  44. Woooow carrot dessert looks delicious and in a healthy version,,, you got a nice blog dear,,, thanks for sharing,,,take care n keep smiling.

  45. Fist time here... wonderful blog.. :)

  46. Hey PJ carrots with nutmeg and saffron sounds so flavorful! Nice presentation!


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