My breakthrough in creating a low-fat, dairy-free version of one of my favorite Indian desserts came while enjoying a salad. It had a low-fat dressing made with chia seeds, which dissolve to a silky goo when wet. Could chia seeds replace the heavy cream and butter in Gajar Halwa? Yes! This brilliant orange dessert is easy enough for a week-night supper and festive enough for a holiday potluck or feast. It's gluten-free, too.
Holiday Carrot Pudding
Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 90 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.
- 2 cups finely grated carrots (300 grams)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (55 grams) (use less if you have particularly sweet carrots)
- 1/3 cup raisins (53 grams)
- 1/3 cup dried, unsweetened coconut (30 grams)
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 3/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds or ground pistachios for garnish (optional)
- Combine all ingredients except chia seeds in a medium pot and cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, then reduce heat to simmer. (I grated the carrots using a food processor, but you could do it by hand. For a pudding with without distinct shreds of carrot, puree carrot slices with water in a food processor or blender.)
- Cook for about one hour until tender, stirring every ten or fifteen minutes. Turn off heat but leave pot on warm burner. Stir in chia seeds and cover pot. Let pudding sit for at least 10 minutes so chia seeds become silky.
- Stir, then serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, garnished with nuts if desired. Keeps for five days refrigerated.
- For a creamier pudding without chia seeds, stir in a quarter cup of cashew cream after the carrots become tender.
- For a more pudding-like pudding, replace water and dried coconut with 1 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (I used Whole Foods 365 Brand organic coconut milk.)
- You can use any extra chia seeds in your Chia Pets.