Pumpkin coconut halwa is an Indian pudding that is made using pumpkin, sugar, ghee, and coconut. It’s cooked in the Instant Pot and takes less than 20 minutes to make!
Today’s pumpkin coconut halwa is from my very dear friend’s cookbook! Vegetarian Indian Cooking with your Instant Pot debuted this week and Manali from Cook with Manali poured her heart and soul into this book.
I won’t go into details about why this book is so special. You can read that for yourself in the acknowledgments at the back of the book.
But I will be talking all about this halwa!
You guys, I’ve never had halwa until now and I’m completely smitten with this pumpkin coconut version.
Typically, halwa is made using whole wheat flour and semolina but this recipe skips both of those elements and uses pumpkin, coconut, ghee, and brown sugar instead.
And the best thing about it is you can make it in less than 20 minutes using the Instant Pot! Winning!!
What can I use in place of desiccated coconut powder?
I ran into some trouble finding desiccated coconut powder. We don’t have Indian grocery stores in my area and Amazon only had bulk supplies listed.
So I purchased Bob’s Red Mill unsweetened coconut flakes and pulsed them in the food processor. It wasn’t as fine as the powder but it worked well enough.
What can I use in place if ghee?
The great thing about the cookbook is it has a recipe for making ghee in the Instant Pot. It’s super easy to do and costs less than purchasing ghee at the store.
If you really don’t want to bother with making it, you can use coconut oil instead. But, keep in mind that the halwa won’t have the rich nutty flavor that ghee offers.
What size Instant Pot works best with pumpkin coconut halwa?
This recipe and all other recipes in the book were developed using a 6-quart instant pot. Larger Instant Pots require more liquid and the recipes may not turn out properly with the extra liquid.
How to make pumpkin coconut halwa?
Step 1: Make the ghee
If you already have ghee or wish to coconut oil then you can skip this step.
The first time I tried to make ghee using the Instant Pot, I went too far past the golden color and ended up with brown butter. It was still delicious and I could have used it but I wanted to try it with ghee first.
I’m saying all this to say if you plan to make it, keep a close eye on it. Once you notice the color change to a rich golden yellow color, it’s time to take it off the heat.
Step 2: Cook the pumpkin
I chose to use a small pie pumpkin and it yielded the exact amount needed for the recipe. I cut the skin off, scooped the seeds out, and cut the flesh into 1-2 inch cubes.
The pumpkin gets cooked with ghee and almond milk until it’s tender. The pressure-cook option on the instant pot speeds this process up. It takes just 5 minutes to soften on that setting.
Use the quick-pressure release so you don’t have to wait for the pressure to come down naturally. That would take a while.
Also, be extra careful when turning the quick-release valve. The steam is very hot and can cause burns.
Step 3: Cook with the remaining ingredients
Once the pumpkin has finished cooking, it’s time to mash it. I just used my potato masher but a fork works well also.
Then you’ll add the sugar, coconut, and cardamom while sauteing for a few minutes after each addition.
The recipe calls for chopped cashews, almonds, and golden raisins also. They all add something special to the dish but I’m sure you can omit one or two if you don’t like them or have an allergy.
Garnish the pumkin coconut halwa with more nuts and coconut if you’d like and serve it warm. It’s best when served right away but my husband enjoyed his cold and was still pleased with the result.
If you need to make it ahead and refrigerate it, you can warm it by microwaving it for just a few minutes until it’s heated through or enjoy it cold.
It’s up to you. We thought it was tasty either way.
More pumpkin recipes you’ll love
Pumpkin Coconut Halwa (Pumpkin Coconut Pudding)
Halwa is probably the most popular Indian dessert (along with kheer). The most common types of halwa are made using semolina and whole-wheat flour. This one is made using pumpkin, sugar, ghee and coconut. You may use coconut oil in place of ghee to make this vegan, but if you ask me, halwa without ghee is just not the same!
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ghee divided
- 4 cups pumpkin cubed, each piece around 1/2 inches (38 mm)
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut powder plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 tablespoon broken cashews plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon golden raisins
Press the sauté button. When it displays hot, add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of ghee to the pot, then add the cubed pumpkin. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the raw smell of the pumpkin goes away. Add the almond milk and close the pot with the lid. Press the manual or pressure-cook button with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Do a quick-pressure release.
- Open the pot and press the sauté button. Mash the pumpkin with a fork or potato masher. Then add the sugar and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the desiccated coconut powder along with the cardamom powder and cook the halwa for 2 to 3 minutes more, stirring continuously until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the cashews, almonds and raisins and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of ghee and mix. Garnish with more nuts and coconut powder, if desired, and serve warm.
Make It Vegan: Replace the ghee with coconut oil.
Reprinted with permission from Vegetarian Indian Cooking by Manali Singh, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018. Photo credit: Manali Singh.
Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.