Sweet potatoes ….a vegetable loaded with Vitamin A, fiber and has inherent sweetness – Nice!! This makes it a great candidate for dessert recipes like Shakarkand halwa.
Store-bought halwa – a delight or greasy ball of sweetness?
In the traditional halwa-making process, you keep heating and stirring and stirring and sti…(you get the point:)) the vegetable/fruit puree until all the water evaporates and it is glazing with ghee and sugar. The caloric density is super high…Why??
Well, as water content decreases -> sugar concentration increases -> the shelf-life increases (especially important in hot places).
Traditional cooks tell me that the mark of a good halwa is when the oil starts oozing out. At this point, I am mentally exhausted from just looking at the calories inside the dish. Does the halwa we make at home require that high density?
If we leave some moisture in the dish, and yet it is flavorful, does that make for a sub-standard halwa? I would argue not….For starters, we can make smaller batches at home. Second, we could just refrigerate or freeze the leftover to lengthen the shelf life without the need for excess moisture removal.
So, vegetable puree+flavor+fat+sweetener, eh?- does that not remind you of a pie filling?
Pie filling ~=Halwa
A pie filling is ready when we bake a flavored, sweetened vegetable puree in the oven for a long time till we get a nice caramelized top. Baking a pie filling without a crust is not that uncommon.
This recipe needs none of the elbow grease or baby-sitting of a traditional halwa. But, it has a lot more inactive cooking time. Once you whip all your ingredients together, all you do is bake. The end result gives you a nice caramelized top with creamy sweet potato filing inside. This cools further to give you a thicker dessert.
This will never develop the thick solid structure of a halwa. But, isn’t a soft, scoop-able dessert more satisfying than a dry, crumbly thirst-inducing one? All comes down to personal preference,…
Vegan Sweet potato halwa that is baked similar to a pie (but without a crust)
- 4 baked sweet potato (medium)
- 1/4 cup jaggery
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 in finely shredded ginger
- few rounds black pepper grinder
- 1/2 lemon (squeeze)
- a pinch salt
Wash sweet potatoes and place them whole in a 400F oven for about an hour. Take it out, let it cool and peel them.
Preheat oven to 350F. Get the spice liquid ready by melting all ingredients, except sweet potatoes, in a sauce pan.
Place the roasted sweet potatoes in a stand mixer and blend thoroughly. Add spice liquid and whip until you get a uniform, creamy batter.
Pour batter into a pie pan and place in 350F oven for about 50 minutes. Bake.
I know the ginger and black pepper sounds weird, but trust me the spices add a nice sharpness to the halwa. If you however want to stick to the traditional recipe, use cardamom powder instead.
Step by Step Pics
Bake sweet potatoes in a 400F oven for an hour. I usually wash and roast a bag of sweet potatoes and do this in bulk. I refrigerate the rest and use in dishes like soup, pulusu, curry etc. throughout the week.
I used organic jaggery that my family sent from an Indian farm. It looks and tastes awesome!! Thank you to my amma and my sis-in-law!!
Make the spice liquid ready. This picture is an in-between step. After this I added coconut milk and lemon juice at the end.
Whip up the sweet potatoes in the meanwhile..
After whipping everything together, pour the batter into a pie pan and bake.
50 minutes later…
This vegan recipe does not need eggs. We can get the same creamy effect with coconut milk, especially since the sweet potato already has a dense texture.
I have spiced the sweet potato filling with a very Southern American mix of spices including ginger, black pepper and lemon juice. It gives a real sharpness and bite to the rather bland sweet potato. I go this idea from Carla Hall’s sweet potato recipe. But, feel free to use cardamom if this feels too strange to you.
Have you tried baking your halwa? Share your comments down below or on my Facebook page. As always, I love hearing from you!!