Pumpkin halwa (or kaddu ka halwa) is a delicious and versatile Indian dessert made with pumpkin, milk, sugar, and ghee. It is a popular dish during the fall and winter months when pumpkins are in season. This easy version is made in the Instant Pot and requires minimal monitoring, unlike the traditional stovetop version.
What is pumpkin halwa?
Pumpkin halwa (also known as kaddu ka halwa) is a rich and creamy Indian dessert made with pumpkin, milk, sugar, and ghee. It is a popular sweet dish served during festivals, celebrations, or as a special treat in Indian households. Pumpkin halwa is commonly made during the fall and winter months when fresh pumpkin is in season.
This easy recipe I am sharing here is made in an Instant Pot and the dessert is ready in less than 30 minutes. The combination of the natural sweetness of the pumpkin, the richness of ghee and milk, and the aroma of cardamom create a dessert that is decadent and indulgent. Pumpkin halwa has a smooth and creamy texture, making it a delightful treat to enjoy whenever you crave something sweet and comforting.
Why you will love this recipe?
- It is rich and creamy. The combination of pumpkin, milk, and ghee gives pumpkin halwa a rich and creamy texture that is very satisfying.
- It is easy to make. Pumpkin halwa is a relatively easy dessert, even if you are not an experienced cook. This recipe only requires a few ingredients and can be made in a pot on the stove or in an Instant Pot.
- It is versatile. Pumpkin halwa can be served warm or cold, and it can be topped with a variety of different garnishes, such as nuts, raisins, or chopped dried fruit. This makes it a great dessert for any occasion.
- It is nutritious. Pumpkin is considered a powerhouse of nutrition and is a good source of vitamins A and C, and it is also a good source of fiber. This wonderful recipe is a great way to enjoy the health benefits of seasonal pumpkins.
- It has a balance of sweetness. The sweetness in this creamy pumpkin halwa is well-balanced, allowing you to enjoy the natural sweetness of the pumpkin without being overwhelming. This recipe can be enjoyed by everyone in the family, including pumpkin haters.
What is halwa?
Halwa is dense, sweet confections that are popular across India. They are prepared both at festivals and for day-to-day sweet tooth cravings. It originates from the Middle East and is derived from the Arabic word 'Hulw' which means sweetmeat. Despite its origin, it is loved by Indians immensely and is an integral part of Indian cuisine.
Halwa is usually made by simmering something in milk - it could be a grain, fruit, or vegetable. An all-time favorite for Indians is gajar ka halva (made with grated carrots). You will mostly find halwa garnished with dry fruits that are fried in ghee. Some other popular varieties of this delicious dessert are white pumpkin halwa (called kasi halwa or kashi halwa), lauki halwa (made using calabash), besan halwa, halwa made using sweet potato, sooji halwa, badam halwa (made using almonds), and moong dal halwa (made using petite yellow lentils).
Pumpkin: Use sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin for this recipe.
Ghee: You can use store-bought ghee or make ghee at home using this recipe.
Milk and milk powder: Use whole milk and whole milk powder to add richness to the halwa.
Sweetener: I have used raw sugar in this recipe; however, plain sugar, brown sugar, or jaggery can also be used.
Other ingredients: Ground cardamom, almonds, and pistachio. You can use any nuts of your choice as a garnish.
Step 1: Set Instant Pot in saute mode and add 2 tablespoons of ghee. Heat ghee and add the pumpkin pieces and saute on high for 2-3 minutes (images 1 and 2).
Step 2: Add the milk and mix well. Cover the Instant Pot lid and set it to Pressure Cooker mode. Pressure cook on high pressure for 4 minutes, then do a quick release of pressure.
Step 3: Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher or fork. Put the Instant Pot back on saute mode (image 5).
Step 4: Add sugar and milk powder. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar melts (image 6).
Step 5: Add ¼ cup of ghee. Saute until the halwa begins to thicken and come together (images 7 and 8).
Step 6: Add cardamom powder and chopped nuts. Mix well (images 9 and 10).
Alternate cooking methods
While making pumpkin halwa in the Instant Pot is convenient and time-saving, you can also make this dessert using these cooking methods.
Stovetop: The traditional stovetop method involves cooking the grated pumpkin in a heavy-bottomed pan or kadai with ghee over medium heat. Stir it occasionally to prevent sticking and cook until the pumpkin becomes soft and the raw smell disappears. Then, add milk, sugar, and spices, and continue stirring on low flame until the halwa thickens to the desired consistency.
Slow cooker: To make pumpkin halwa in a slow cooker, combine grated pumpkin, ghee, and milk in the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours or until the pumpkin is tender. Then, stir in the sugar and spices and continue cooking for another 1-2 hours or until the halwa thickens.
Stovetop pressure cooker: Similar to the Instant Pot method, you can use a regular stove top pressure cooker to make pumpkin halwa. Follow this same process of cooking the pumpkin with ghee and milk, and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Open the lid once the pressure comes down. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the halwa thickens.
Choose the right pumpkin: Use a sweet and flavorful variety of pumpkins for the best taste. The sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins are ideal choices as they have a natural sweetness that enhances the halwa's flavor.
Properly saute the pumpkin: When cooking the pumpkin in ghee, make sure to sauté it well until the raw smell disappears. Properly roasting the pumpkin enhances its flavor.
Use good quality ghee and milk: High-quality ghee and whole milk will provide richness and depth to the kaddu halwa. Avoid low-fat milk, as it may not yield the same creamy texture.
Control sweetness: Adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste preferences and the natural sweetness of the pumpkin. Start with ¼ cup of sugar and gradually add more and taste as you go.
Flavor: I have used green cardamom to flavor this halwa. Other ingredients that can be used are saffron strands, a pinch of nutmeg, or cinnamon.
More Desserts Instant Pot Recipes
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To store pumpkin halwa, allow it to cool to room temperature, and then transfer it to an airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you want to keep it for a longer period, you can freeze the halwa in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. When reheating, gently warm the halwa on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a splash of milk or water to restore its creamy texture.
You can use cooking oil or coconut oil instead of ghee though they may impart a slightly different taste to the halwa.
Yes, you can make this halwa vegan by using plant-based alternatives for dairy ingredients. Replace whole milk with almond milk, coconut milk, or any other non-dairy milk of your choice. Substitute ghee with vegan butter or coconut oil.
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Pumpkin Halwa (Instant Pot)
- Set Instant Pot in saute mode and add 2 tablespoons of ghee.
- Once it heat, add the pumpkin cubes and saute on high for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the milk and mix well.
- Cover the Instant Pot lid and set it to Pressure Cooker mode. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes, then do a quick release of pressure.
- Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher or fork.
- Put the Instant Pot back on saute mode.
- Add sugar and milk powder. Saute for 2-3 minutes (until the sugar melts).
- Add ¼ cup of ghee. Saute until the halwa begins to thicken and come together
- Add cardamom powder and chopped nuts. Mix well.
- Serve halwa warm or cold.