If there was an award for the dish with the most coloured history, it would undoubtedly be presented to gajar ka halwa.

This dessert has, for years, occupied a sweet spot at the gastronomic intersection of a wide variety of tales, each emerging from a different period in history.

As we dunk into the history of the great halwa, the most popular tale is of its name. The word halwa comes from the Arabic word hulw which translates to sweet, and its first appearance in the English language dates back to 1850.

In fact, it is these Arabic origins that back the theory that halwa was a dish that came from Persia to India.

Recipes of halwa can be traced to the legendary Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Dishes), a 13th-century Arabic text.

One of the first to acknowledge this was Guzishta Lucknow written by Abdul Halim Sharar, a 20th-century author and historian.

Here, Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan Ibn al-Karīm mentioned different recipes of halwa.

It is said that in the 16th century, halwa was one among the repertoire of dishes prepared for Akbar whilst he abstained from meat.

But while you digest these origins of the dessert, there are still other versions.

Some argue that the Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire, is credited with making halwa popular. It is said that the sultanate even reserved a special kitchen called the ‘Helvahane’ for the sweet.

This theory of the halwa’s entry into the world between the 13th and 16th centuries is backed by Chicago-based food historian Colleen Taylor Sen in her book ‘Feasts and Fasts’.

Others say it was the Byzantine Empire in the 12th century that should be credited.

As for the story of how the gajar ka halwa came to be, the Dutch are credited for this winter special.

It is the result of carrots, indigenous to Afghanistan, being brought to India by the Dutch in the 17th century as the latter wanted to pay tribute to William III, the Prince of Orange.

The root vegetable became so popular in Punjab upon its advent into the region that it was added to almost every dish. Soon, it made its way into the dessert scene, and thus, was born the gajar ka halwa.