This authentic Instant Pot Carrot Halwa recipe is made in the traditional Pakistani & Indian style but without hours of active time over the stove. So comforting, naturally gluten-free, and only requires 6 ingredients!
We all have some foods that we hold dear to our hearts. Foods that we feel a particular ownership toward, ones we feel entitled to criticize poorly-made versions of, etc. Carrot halwa (or gajar ka halwa as I grew up calling it) is that food for me.
Two winters ago during a visit to Pakistan, I tasted fresh, homemade carrot halwa made with plump, juicy red carrots and hand-churned ghee. If there was any ambiguity left about what carrot halwa should taste like, it was gone that winter.
All this is to say that I am not taking this carrot halwa recipe sharing-thing lightly, and I’ve tried my best not to compromise on the authentic taste. Yes, apropos of my blog, it’s easier than the traditional stovetop method and healthier than most versions.
But, there is a bit of waiting and it requires a good 30 minutes of active sauté time at the end, which is imperative to bring out the flavor and color. It also uses a generous amount of ghee. Of course, you can decrease it to your liking, but what is carrot halwa without that beautiful trace of ghee left on your plate?
Instant Pot Carrot Halwa Tips
- Use organic carrots, the best you can find. I buy relatively small carrots with their tops still intact.
- Stick to ghee (not butter or oil) for the most authentic flavor.
- To finely shred the carrots, use the shredder attachment of your food processor. If you have two attachments to choose from, use the thinner blade vs. the thicker one so you don’t have any chunky pieces in the halwa.
- When you first open the Instant Pot after cooking (be sure to wait for it to naturally release some pressure first), you’ll have to let the milk liquid evaporate. This will take about 30 minutes. Increase stirring toward the end.
- Make sure to complete the full 30 minutes of sauté time at the end. There’s no denying it’s a tedious step, but it’s essential to bring out the beautifully deep flavor and color to the halwa. You can also transfer the halwa the stovetop and sauté there if you find it easier.
If you have any questions about this recipe, please feel free to ask below! And if you try it, please do share with me below or tag me on Instagram!
Instant Pot Carrot Halwa (Gajar ka Halwa)
- 2.2 lb organic carrots tops and ends removed, peeled only where necessary
- ½ cup* ghee divided (1/4 cup will be used before cooking, another ¼ cup after)
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 4 cups whole milk
- scant 3/4 cup raw cane sugar or to taste
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp slivered pistachios optional, for garnish
- 1 tbsp slivered almonds optional, for garnish
- Use a thin shredder attachment of food processor to thinly grate the carrots, in batches if necessary. Set aside.
- Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Once hot, add ¼ cup ghee, cardamom pods, and shredded carrots. Sauté for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the color starts to change and the carrots reduce down a bit. Add the whole milk and mix.
- Cancel the sauté setting, secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure cook setting and set the cooking time for 1 hour at low pressure. (Click pressure level to turn it to low.)
- Naturally let the pressure release for 10 minutes. Then quick release any remaining pressure by moving the Pressure Release to Venting.
- Select the Sauté setting and allow the excess moisture to evaporate for 25-30 minutes, or until most of the moisture has evaporated and the carrots start sticking to the bottom.
- (The IP will turn off after 30 minutes. Simply turn it back on.) Add the sugar, ¼ cup ghee, and sauté again for 20 minutes. This step is imperative to bring out the color and flavor.
- Add the heavy whipping cream and sauté again for 10 minutes. The moisture should evaporate and the halwa will have thickened. Once the ghee starts to separate from the carrots and the carrot halwa turns a deep orange (closer to red) color, press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot.
- Scoop into a serving dish and decorate with pistachios, almonds, or other garnishing.