I know Autumn means a flood of pumpkin recipes and the next thing that comes to mind instantly is Halloween. We don’t celebrate Halloween in South Asia as such, or at least we didn’t till a few years back. Off late the festival has gradually entered Pakistan and one can see shopping malls and schools put up decorations, restaurants plan special menu, while children and young people dress up as their favourite characters from horror movies and fantasy fiction. Just a harmless little way of spending an evening having fun with friends and family.
Before the Halloween craze, pumpkin season mostly meant pumpkin halwa for us. As weather turns from pleasant to cold, halwas become the most coveted comfort food here. There is a wide variety to choose from but the most popular in Lahore have remained carrot halwa, gram lentils halwa and pumpkin halwa that you will find sold by most sweet shops and served at wedding banquets.
I find halwa made with fruits and vegetables a lot lighter than the ones made with grains. Also one needs a lot less sugar to sweeten them because of the natural sweetness in fruits and vegetables. Cooking halwa at home is considered an elaborate and laborious task but, as in any other recipe, you get to control the ingredients if you cook it in your kitchen. This yummy and easy pumpkin halwa recipe has a lot less oil and sugar than what you would find in shop bought versions.
Peeling the pumpkin is the hardest part of the process. Make it easy by roasting the whole pumpkin so that you don’t have to struggle with the hard peel. The flesh will come out as soft as butter and cooking will require a lot less time. How to bake a whole pumpkin ? Find my easy tips here .
The other creative things you can do with this easy pumpkin halwa recipe – Fill it as stuffing in hand pies, samosas and turnovers. Cut Jack o’lantern or any other shapes with puff pastry and fill halwa in for fun baked treats.
6 cups pumpkin cut into cubes or 3+1/2 cup roasted pumpkin flesh
1+1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup jaggery or organic brown sugar
4 tablespoons ghee(clarified butter) or olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed green cardamom seeds
3/4 cup mixed nuts and dried fruits for garnish(almonds, raisins, cashews, walnuts, dates, etc)
This Is What You Do:
Wash, pat dry and cut pumpkin into haves. Wrap in foil sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees C or till the skin is soft and flesh buttery enough to be scooped out. Use the required quantity to make halwa and freeze the remaining ready to be used for other recipes.
Remove pumpkin peel and seeds, cut into cubes.
Grate by hand or shred in a food processor.
Add pumpkin, milk and crushed cardamom to a deep pan. Cook on medium low heat till pumpkin is super soft and all milk is absorbed.
Add sugar and 2 tablespoons ghee/oil. Keep stirring frequently to keep the dessert from catching at the bottom of the pan. If you like it sweeter, you can add more jaggery/sugar.
Add the remaining oil and cook till the halwa thickens and doesn’t stick to the pan anymore.
Garnish with your favourite nuts and dried fruits. Serve warm.