A dairy-free, melt-in-the-mouth vegan, Indian-style Zucchini Halwa made with almond milk and infused with the fragrance of cardamom.
My Zucchini Halwa is a great way to use up all those summer zucchini -- or other -- squashes you no doubt still have in your vegetable garden. And if you don't have a vegetable garden, I'm willing to bet there is an abundance of them at your nearest market or supermarket.
Have you heard that story about people who, not knowing what to do with all that zucchini growing in their yards every summer, take the extra squashes, leave them on a neighbor's doorstep, knock, and run away before they'll be found? (True story from his childhood, according to a friend). Well, I'm not one of those people. This year I had five zucchini and yellow squash plants growing in my garden and we couldn't eat the veggies they produced fast enough. But I did come close to saturation point last week when, after picking one huge zucchini and one yellow squash, I couldn't think of yet another recipe to make with them.
It was reader Raana to the rescue. Raana happened to try my Vegan Doodhi Halwa recipe with zucchini and left me a message saying how much she loved it. I had contemplated using zucchini to make this very traditional Indian sweet before, but never got around to it. This time I had no excuse to procrastinate -- the time was just right.
So I got out my heaviest saucepan, grated the zucchini and yellow squash (use one or the other or both-- your results will be exactly the same), powdered some cardamom, and got the stove going.
Any kind of Halwa-- like this Vegan Gajar Halwa or Carrot Halwa, or a Doodhi Halwa -- is really a minimum-ingredient and low-labor recipe, but that does not mean you can walk away from it. It takes an hour or more for the liquid to reduce, so you do need to stick around and stir the halwa frequently.
The result is totally worth the time. I am a huge fan of both Gajar Halwa and Doodhi Halwa, but this Zucchini Halwa surpassed both. Perhaps it's because the zucchini tends to be more bland than the other two vegetables, which -- if you think about it-- is perfect for a sweet recipe. Also, the zucchini tends to cook up softer, sikier, and it melts in your mouth.
Raana was kind enough to share her recipe with us, and you can read it in the comments section of this Vegan Doodhi Halwa post, but I spun off my own Halwa recipe with almond milk because I didn't have any pistachios on hand. Her version with pistachio milk sounds divine, so try it if you'd rather.
Vegan Zucchini Halwa
- 2 large zucchini (or yellow squash or one of each. Peel and grate coarsely.)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups almond milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ to ¾ cup cane sugar (use the lesser or greater quantity more based on your preference)
- ¼ cup walnuts (chopped)
- Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed, large saucepan.
- Add the grated squash and salt. Saute about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture will exude a lot of liquid.
- Add the almond milk, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low so it boils gently, and let it cook about an hour to 90 minutes, or until the liquid has completely evaporated. Stir frequently while the mixture reduces. Don't be tempted to rush the process by using less liquid. You really need to let the liquid and heat infuse the squash over a period of time so it gets all silky and tender.
- Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Turn off the heat.
- In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, add the chopped walnuts and cardamom, and saute for a minute or until the walnuts turn lightly golden.
- Add to the halwa and mix thoroughly.
- Halwa, to my mind, tastes best chilled. But if you just can't wait, allow it to cool slightly and attack. After that first bite, you'll be a new person.
I want to try this recipe, though I wanted your thoughts on a few tweaks:
1. Is it OK to use Oat Milk instead? (I think I saw a comment where you've said the kind of milk doesn't matter much)
2. Around how many grams/ cups of zucchini? (The recipe says two large zucchini - large could be relative?)
3. Can I use jaggery instead of sugar?
Looking forward to your response. Thank you!
I'm Also in the DC area & happy to find this recipe. As a vegetarian keto type, I plan to sub the sugar for a natural low glycemic sweetener and the vegetable oil for ghee. Maybe the zucchini version will help me to not miss gajar halwa so much
Hi Shannon, hope you try! Nice to "meet" a fellow DC area resident.
Thanks for this recipe!! I've been on a gluten free, vegan diet for the last few months and have been craving a creamy dessert - this was perfect.
What an awesome idea to create a dessert with zucchini ....I am definitely going to try this 🙂
This sounds utterly delicious. if you get tired of the squashes, I have had good luck, grating and freezing them (1 . measures). To use, thaw and use with any liquid remaining.
East Meets West Veg
I can just imagine how luscious this must be. Zucchini really does make sweets so silky and creamy. Looks delicious!
Hi EMWV, yes, it's quite amazing how well it works in desserts, isn't it? One of my other favorites is Zucchini Bread.
This looks divine! I had two silly questions - does the almond milk split on high heat? Would coconut milk work as well? Thanks for such a lovely recipe, will definitely be trying this 🙂
The liquid gets absorbed into the zucchini so it doesn't really affect the texture. But you can certainly use coconut milk--that's a flavor that goes great with Indian sweets.
Thanks for such a yummy and healthy recipe! I followed your method with a few tweaks (I kept the skin on the zucchinis, substituted almond milk with coconut milk and used swerve as a sweetener) Such a lovely keto dessert! My sister followed the exact same recipe as yours and she loved it as well.
I love your blog and feel inspired by your dedication to veganism. I've tried a similar recipe using papayas. However i tried cooking it in the microwave. It was fast and convenient with no compromise on the taste.
Hi Geeta, thanks for your kind words. I am not a great fan of papayas because they are never sweet enough, and making a halwa with them sounds like a brilliant idea and one I know I'd love.
Deb @ Saving the Crumbs
I've had the sesame and sunflower halwas but not this kind before. It's great learning a lot about authentic Indian food from you! Especially when it means using up zucchini in dessert.....that's awesome!
Hi Deb, the seed halwas are more middle eastern in origin. Indian halwas are usually made with fruits or veggies or sometimes with grains. They are very different. I am glad you're enjoying the blog! 🙂