Monday, July 11, 2011

Pumpkin Halwa

Follow your heart – three words that can be spoken so easily but can be so difficult to do.  In fact I have noticed that the seemingly easier and more flowery sentences are, the more difficult they are to be put into action.  “Forgive your enemy”, “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching” or then “Love thy neighbour” – simple and forthright sentences but try putting them into action.

I have always admired people who say that they “follow their heart”.  But I think it takes a lot of courage to do this.  My heart has always told me that I should have a restaurant or catering business where I could fulfil my dream of cooking, creating and feeding others.  But that dream entails a lot of risks – resigning from my job, taking a loan to start up something and then not very sure if I would be successful at what I would do.  Or imagine following your heart to pursue a career which would take you away from your family and friends – is it more important to follow your heart here or to be there for your family? 

I do follow my heart though in things where the impact is smaller – like following my heart to cook what I want for dinner or following my heart to plan the weekend getaway with the family – but I could never “follow my heart” to do things that would have big impact not only on my life, but more importantly the lives of others.  Am I being too cautious here or too sacrificing or too scared…no one can tell, but in such matters I would rather follow my head than my heart.

Preparation Time:  45 minutes
Serves: 6


1 small butternut squash or any winter squash or pumpkin (4 cups when grated)
4 tablespoons butter or ghee
2 tablespoons cashew nuts
2 tablespoons raisins
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
250 ml coconut milk
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons almond meal or ground almonds
A pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon saffron


  1. Peel the butternut squash or pumpkin using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife. Halve it and scoop out the seeds and membrane. Cut it into large chunks. Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the chunks. (A food processor will make the grating easier). You should have about 4 cups of grated squash.
  2. Heat the butter or ghee in a large, wide, non-stick skillet. Add cashews, raisins, and cardamom. 
  3. When the cashews get golden, add the grated butternut squash or pumpkin. Cook while stirring for about 2 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the milk and condensed milk. Cook uncovered on medium heat for 15 minutes or till the squash is cooked, but still holding its shape. Stir the halwa occasionally so that it doesn’t burn or stick to the pan.
  5. Add almond meal and cook another 4 minutes. The halwa is done when it has thickened and the liquid is no longer runny, approximately 20 minutes on a low flame. The halwa will get firmer when cool. 
  6. Add the salt and saffron at the end of cooking.
  7. Cool the halwa a little, then shape into balls (optional) or serve in little bowls.

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