Word of Mouth: Khoya

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Khoya [koya] n. milk solids created by slowly evaporating milk over heat.

This weekend I had the time and inclination to finally try carrot halwa for the first time. The first step in this classic Indian dessert is to slowly cook finely grated carrots with a half gallon of milk. As the milk slowly evaporates, it leaves behind a thick, creamy solid, known as khoya, or mawa. Khoya, whether cooked all the way down to a solid or left in its slightly softer state, is the base of many Indian sweets.

The heating process preserves the milk and offers a wide range of textures and consistencies that can be mixed with sugar and spices then cooked into puddings, molded into candies, or kneaded into crumbly, tender cookies.

This cooking down of the milk is of course similar to the Latin American dulce de leche - the difference here being that khoya is cooked down without sugar.

For this particular dish the milk gets cooked into a pudding-like state, then sugar is added and cooked to the soft ball stage, producing a sticky-sweet confection with a wonderfully chewy texture.

• Check out these mouth-watering photos of an array of Indian sweets
Instructions for making khoya, with some suggested shortcuts

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.