Doodhi Halwa

If I could wish for something absurdly impossible and food-related, I’d wish for the Vegan Midas Touch. Y’know, where all the foods I love would just magically turn animal-free, after which I could eat them until I could eat no more.

That touch could be particularly useful for veganizing some Indian sweets. Like the pedha, a classic Indian treat that looks like a plump disc and is made entirely of reduced milk and sugar.

Pedhas are unusually delicious and they are special because they are almost always accompanied by good news. Engagements, weddings, births, exams passed…there is no happy occasion that a pedha can’t sweeten just a little bit more.

A while back a reader asked me for a vegan pedha recipe. The attempts I’ve made have ended up deliciously edible but without any resemblance to a real, actual pedha as I remember it. So I’ll keep trying, and when I do hit upon a recipe…I’ll share the good news with a pedha.

Until then, I’ve got a delicious Doodhi Halwa to keep you going. This is an Indian sweet that is not at all difficult to veganize and which, in its animal-free avatar, ends up being both healthier and more delicious.

A doodhi or lauki or bottle gourd is a pretty, pale-green squash that is a known cholesterol fighter and makes delicious subzis. Because the doodhi is very neutral-tasting it lends itself beautifully to a halwa.

The process of making a doodhi halwa is very similar to that for making a gajar or carrot halwa, which I’ve blogged about earlier. You grate the veggie, you reduce the milk, you add the sugar, and you have an incredibly fabulous sweet made of something that’s actually good for you.

Besides, there really is no way to mess this one up. All it takes is a bit of patience.

I use almond milk instead of regular milk in my doodhi halwa. Cup for cup, almond milk contains about 1/3rd the calories in a cup of regular milk. Also, I like substituting nut milks rather than soy milk in Indian sweets because I find they add tons of flavor and no aftertaste, which can ruin a sweet. And because most Indian sweets including this one usually incorporate nuts, the flavor of almond milk lends itself naturally to these dishes.

That said, if you can’t find almond milk or refuse to make your own (yes, you’re allowed to be a rebel), you can go with vanilla soymilk. The halwa would still be delicious.

It’s time for me to fly. Enjoy your weekend, all!

Doodhi Halwa

Ingredients:

1 medium bottle gourd, peeled (the thin skin peels easily with a regular vegetable peeler), seeded, and then finely grated. It should yield around 4-5 cups.

1/3- 1/2 cup sugar

3 cups almond milk

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

A handful of cashewnuts, chopped

1 tbsp + 1 tsp canola or other flavorless vegetable oil

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wide-mouthed skillet.

Add the bottle gourd and stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes.

Add the almond milk, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the mixture simmers and allow the halwa to reduce until all the liquid has evaporated, which may take about 60-90 minutes. Stir frequently while the mixture is reducing.

Add the sugar and stir well.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tsp of oil and add the cashewnuts to it along with the cardamom powder. Turn off the heat as the cashews turn lightly golden-brown and pour everything into the halwa.

Mix well and turn off the heat before the halwa gets too dry. You can also add some raisins along with the cashews and let them plump in the oil before adding to the halwa. .

I think the halwa tastes best slightly chilled, but if you can’t wait, dig in.=”separator”>

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    So much sugar cannot really be healthy, is it not? What would you say about using Sucralose to make it healthier? – Rajendra

  2. says

    Gita, Supriya, Skay, Sharmila, Thanks!

    Rajendra, I believe in moderation–and I usually use turbinado sugar which is unrefined, and that helps too in making the halwa healthier than it would be with regular suger. I’ve not used sucralose as a sweetener before, but you could certainly try it. Your halwa may be a little drier, and you might want to add a tiny bit of almond milk at the end to get it back to a creamy consistency. Hope that helps :)

    Latha, Simplyfood: Thanks!

  3. says

    Hats off to you for trying veganising so many hither to thought impossible Indain sweets. I would have never imagined using Almond milk. Will definitely give this a try sometime.

  4. says

    This looks like something my mom and sister would totally love; they’re obsessed with cashews and also have no problem with sweets.

    I also prefer almond milk over soy milk in general, for the neutral taste and lower caloric content.

  5. Anonymous says

    Hi Vaishali

    Halwa looks delicious and reminds me of My mom’s doodhi halwa. Would definitely try this cruelty free version :)
    Will be waiting for Pedha recipe :)

  6. says

    Have seen the Doodhi halwa only in Mittai shops, never attempted to make at home. Finding it similar to gajjar halwa, will surely make some soon. Thanks for sharing. Clicks are superb!!!!!

  7. says

    Mmmm, this looks so yummy! Could you recommend any substitute for bottle gourd? I think I’ve seen it in the Asian market here, but wonder if I could use a different kind of squash? Thanks!

  8. says

    Hey Vaishali.. your doodhi halwa looks really yummy! Your point about the difficulty in vegan-izing pedha is so true! I had never thought about it before. Look forward to when you successfully accomplish that! Best wishes!

  9. says

    RedChillies, Nupur, Tiffany, Anonymous, Chitchat, Parita, Madhavi: Thanks!

    Rebeca, You might want to try this with zucchini which is also a bland squash, although I wonder if the water content in zucchini could be a bit too high, which would mean it’d take much longer. Could be worth a try, especially now that we’re heading into the warm season :)

    Deepa, Kumudha, SS, Trupti: Thanks!

  10. says

    You know what else you can use this summer to make halwa, zucchini. The moment I saw this post, I was thinking of making zucchini halwa. I need to try that.
    To answer your question,
    Bread machine kneads the dough so well that the gluten gets formed very well and that yields better loaves. Also, it avoids adding too much of flour to make it handle and that gives more moist loaves. I have seen your avocado brioche and that looks awesome too. I don’t think I’ll be able to juggle work, two kids and make fresh bread couple of times every week if not for the bread machine. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone if they like having homemade fresh bread.

  11. says

    One of hard part will be milk for me! I cannot even imagine a sweet, so waiting the good news with Vegan pedas :)
    Almond milk sounds an excellent subst!

  12. says

    I am not particularly fond of dudhi halwa but I generally use cashew-almond mixed milk in most substitutions. I was just going through all your posts and found some of them so good. Cannot comment in each one but love your blog as always! I really enjoy the thoughtfulness that accompanies each post.

  13. says

    Thanks! I will try it will zucchini… my kids and husband have very limited diets, but I think we could tweak this just a bit (honey for sugar) so that they could eat it. Can’t wait to try it… thanks!
    I make “pudding” out of butternut squash often and it’s delicious. I have some zuchhini in the fridge just waiting!

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