Dudhi halwa is grated opo squash cooked with ghee, sugar, and milk to form one of my favorite sweet confections. Every year for my birthday, my mom would ask me what sweet I wanted in addition to the cake. I always requested this dudhi halwa. I’ve had a lot of dudhi halwa, but my mom’s is by far the best.
About this Recipe
I dislike many dudhi halwa recipes because, when it is not done well, dudhi halwa can taste like boiled squash. That is not what I want a sweet dessert to taste like. The secret to this recipe is the mawa. Between the mawa and aromatic spices, there is no risk of getting that undesired squash flavor.
Halwa is a very old dessert that originated in Persia and found its way to India by the Moghuls. India now has many varieties of halwa, such as gajar halwa, sooji halwa (sheero), and badam (almond) halwa. Different regions of India will have their specialties of halwa.
Preparing the Dudhi
It’s essential to use a young, tender dudhi for this recipe, around a foot long. The seeds should be soft and light-colored.
I prefer to remove the seeds when I grate the dudhi. If they are soft enough, they won’t cause a problem, but they do not look very nice. When using a hand grater, it is very simple to stop every so often and remove the seeds as they collect on the grater and remove the ones hanging off the squash.
If you want to use a food processor to help you grate, you can quarter the dudhi lengthwise. Once it is cut, remove the seeds before feeding the pieces through the food processor.
I based this on my mom’s recipe that she has been using for many years. She always used store-bought mawa because we made it in India. I started this recipe using my version with milk powder. You can follow any of the methods from our mawa post. But I prefer the milk powder method for this post.
Dudhi – lauki, bottle gourd, opo squash. It forms the base of this recipe and provides just a little bit of bite, it is rendered almost creamy from the milk and sugar.
Mawa – adds a milky richness. Many people make this recipe without the mawa. To me, the mawa makes all the difference. There are many ways to make mawa, and if you are lucky you can buy it from the store already made. I usually make this with my 5-minute Instant Mawa recipe.
Cardamom – common to most Indian sweets
Nutmeg – nutmeg gives it a real sweet-shop finish.
- Make sure to boil off the water before adding the milk. This is important for getting the nice dry texture of dudhi halwa.
- Make sure to use young, tender dudhi. Young dudhi will have smaller seeds, a softer texture, and no bitterness.
- You can leave out the mawa. This is not my recommendation, but many people enjoy it this way. Use extra milk or some ricotta cheese, and cook it down for a similar mouthfeel.
- For a plant-based version, use soaked cashews and grind them in a blender to replace the milk and mawa. Replace the ghee with coconut oil.
- Nuts are optional. Some people use many more than I do.
- Try adding vanilla.
Dudhi halwa will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can serve dudhi halwa cold, straight out of the refrigerator if you like, or heat it up in the microwave.
It also freezes well for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Dudhi Halwa | Lauki ka Halwa
- 3 cups dudhi peeled and grated
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup mawa
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- ¼ tsp nutmeg freshly grated
For the Mawa
- 1 ½ Tbsp ghee
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup whole milk powder
For the Mawa
- Whisk together the milk and milk powder, making sure to remove any lumps.
- Heat ghee in a nonstick pan. Add milk mixture and cook over medium heat for 3-6 minutes, until a dough forms that easily pulls away from the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Halwa
- Wipe your nonstick pan clean and add ghee. Heat with a medium-hot flame. Add dudhi and saute until it releases its liquid and all of the liquid is evaporated, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add milk and let it absorb for about 2 minutes. Add sugar. Stir and let it melt to form a syrup.
- Once the syrup has been absorbed into the dudhi, crumble the mawa into the dudhi. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add cardamom and nutmeg. Stir to combine, then remove from heat.
It may be served warm or cold. Garnish with chopped nuts if desired.