A happy Diwali to all with this scrumptious vegan Butternut Squash Cashew Halwa, and here's hoping it puts joy in your hearts and light in your lives. 🙂
Diwali is a very special time for Indians, including us, the millions of people in the Indian diaspora scattered around the world. We love festivals and festivities of all kinds, and Diwali is the biggest one of them all -- the mother of all festivals, lasting five days or even more. It's hard not to get excited.
Jay, who'll be spending his third Diwali in the United States this year, is always a little saddened by the fact that there aren't any lanterns out in porches and no loud firecrackers that turn night into day. But he has been diligently and enthusiastically helping me put little oil lamps in the windows, and this year he's got Halloween to look forward to, so all's good.
Diwali is a time for lots of great food, a lot of it sweet, and in Indian kitchens the flurry begins weeks in advance. Sweets like laddoos and burfis and savory foods like chivda and chaklis are cooked and stashed away for the big day, to be eaten and shared.
Since most Indian sweets make liberal use of dairy products, including milk, butter and ghee, I've made and shared with you, over the nearly 9 years that Holy Cow! has been around, vegan versions of Indian sweets that are just as tasty and do not involve any animal products. Like this Butternut Squash Cashew Halwa which is made without any milk or ghee.
I love this halwa because it's not just uber delicious, it's also rather pretty to look at. Butternut Squash is not a vegetable eaten nor -- I think -- available in India, but if you can't find it, just about any winter squash will work great in this recipe, including pumpkin.
I also love that this halwa doesn't take hours to make, like some Indian sweets do. It does involve some stirring and watching, but the halwa comes together in under 45 minutes, leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy your Diwali or the rest of the day.
Stay tuned after the recipe for more Diwali delicacies to sweeten your day.
Vegan Butternut Squash Cashew Halwa
- Heavy bottom skillet
- 20 oz butternut squash (grated)
- 1 cup cashews (soaked with 1 cup water for 30 minutes then blended into a smooth paste)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Cashews and raisins for garnish (optional but nice)
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and add the butternut squash. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the squash starts to soften.
- Add sugar and cashew cream, stir well, and continue to cook, stirring, for about 30-35 minutes or until all of the liquid has disappeared and the halwa is thick and gooey.
- Stir in the cardamom powder and take off heat.
- In a small saucepan or skillet, heat the remaining ½ tablespoon oil
- Add cashews or raisins if using, and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the raisins puff up and the cashews are lightly golden.
- Pour over the halwa and mix.
- Serve at room temperature or cold.
More vegan Diwali treats from the blog:
- Kaju Rava Laddu
- Chana Dal Burfi
- Vegan Kaju Katli
- Almond Halwa
- Pumpkin Brown Rice Kheer
- Almond Kheer
- Chavde/Mande, a lacy sweet treat from Maharashtra
- Doodhi Halwa
- Vegan Carrot Halwa
- Mango Shahi Tukda
- Zucchini Halwa
- Chivda, a savory snack mix
- Ribbon Pakodas
Do I blend the cashews with the water?
Yes, with the 1 cup water you soaked them with!
What is the fried cake picture at the bottom? I can't seem the to find the recipe for it.
Happy Diwali Vaishali 🙂 ! I love halwas of any kind, and this one looks so lovely and decadent <3
Happy Diwali, Namrata!
This sounds great, and I'm off to the kitchen to make some. Happy Diwali!
I didn't have any coconut oil, so I used coconut milk instead of making cashew cream. It's the good stuff in a can, with no gum. Anyway, it turned out quite good, just not as thick as it probably should be -- it's like a dense pudding but not as semi-solid as this stuff seems to be at restaurants. I was afraid of burning it. We'll enjoy it regardless! Thanks for the recipe.
Hi Catherine, Coconut milk is runnier than cashew cream which is thicker, so it makes sense that yours was less solid. Also coconut milk tends to separate when heated too long. Any other nut "cream" would also work here, like almond or walnut. So glad you tried it, and Happy Diwali! 🙂
Happy Diwali to you and your family.
I prefer the sweets of Diwali to the meats of Thanksgiving and Christmas. So many animals are killed for the holiday season in the USA.(forty-five million turkeys alone for one day of gratitude) .For me it is a very sad time of year. Diwali gives me hope. I have been told that Diwali represents an end to ignorance and the return of knowledge - an end to the carnage of the holiday season.
Happy Diwali to you, Ruth!