Saturday, October 22, 2016

Vellai Poosanikai Halwa - Kasi Halwa - Ash Gourd Halwa - Diwali Recipe

This white pumpkin halwa is something I have wanted to make for a long time now. Kept postponing because of non-availability of white pumpkin. I have seen slices of white pumpkin in the Indian grocery stores but never a whole pumpkin. So what is one to do? Try growing it of course which I successfully did this summer. The plant grows big long vines and I had about 2 of the them which gave about 12 pumpkins in total. The dry hot summer and my lack of regular watering kept the number to a minimum or we would have had more than we could handle.

These white pumpkins are great for mor kuzhamu, thayir kuzhambu and sambhar of course but I would say they were meant for making halwa.
I also froze some of it for use later in the winter months. I am not sure if you can freeze raw pumpkins but par boil them with a pinch of turmeric and then drain the water and freeze for later use.

For making halwa you need fresh mature pumpkins. Young pumpkins release too much water but don't be deterred by it. You can hand grate the pumpkin or use a food processor. I tried both ways and I prefer the hand grating method better.

If you have about 6 cups of grated and liquid squeezed out pumpkin you will get about 3 cups of halwa.

Clean the pumpkin and mince it finely using a food processor or grate using a fine grater.
Use a cheese cloth to strain the water from the grated pumpkin.
Texture are slightly different when using a food processor and grater.
Add ghee to a thick bottomed pan and add in the grated pumpkin and saute. Heat about 1/2 of the water and bring it to a boil.
Add the water to the sauteed pumpkin and let it cook till the pumpkin is soft. Add teh sugar and let it come to a boil.
Let the pumpkin and sugar cook in medium heat till it thickens. Add the saffron and ghee.
Roast the cashews in a bit of ghee. The mixture will come together as it cooks. Add the cardamom powder and mix together.

Vellai Poosanikkai Halwa - Kasi Halwa - Ash Gourd Halwa
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
  1. 1/2 White Pumpkin peeled, seeds removed and grated and water squeezed out (about 6 cups)
  2. 3 cups of raw sugar
  3. 1 tsp of lemon juice (optional)
  4. few strands of saffron
  5. 1 tsp of cardamom + 1/2 tsp sugar powdered
  6. 2 tbsp of ghee (optional)
  7. 1/4 cup of raw cashews broken

  1. Grate or use a food processor to chop the pumpkin very fine. Use a fine cheese cloth and strain out as much of the water as possible from the grated pumpkin. Measure about 6 cups of the pumpkin. Do not discard the water.
  2. In a thick bottomed pot add 2 tsp of ghee and then add the squeezed pumpkin. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. In a sauce pan heat about half of the squeezed water and when it comes to a boil add to the sauteed pumpkin just enough to cover the pumpkin.
  4. Let the pumpkin cook it is becomes soft and fully cooked (takes about 8-10 minutes).
  5. Add in the sugar, reduce the heat to medium and let it come to a boil. Add the lemon juice on the side to avoid the sugar from getting crystallized.
  6. In a sauce pan add some ghee and roast the cashews and set aside.
  7. Keep stirring so the pumpkin sugar mixture does not stick to the bottom.
  8. After about 20 minutes or so the moisture should start evaporating and the mixture will come together. Add some ghee at this stage along with the saffron.
  9. Cook till the mixture stars to get shiny and thick, add the cardamom powder and the roasted cashews. Mix and turn off the heat. Remove the pan from the stove and set aside till it cools down and store in a glass or stainless steel container.
  10. Note:The halwa should stay well outside for a good 2 weeks and in the refrigerator for a month. It is a good sweet to freeze.
  11. The water squeezed from the pumpkin can be used for drinking.
  12. I used raw sugar so the halwa is dark orange in color.
  13. If you used food processor to mince the pumpkin, right after you add the sugar use a hand blender to break down the pumpkin further if it is still grainy.

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