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Vegan Cashew Halwa (Naturally Sweetened)


A delicious, dairyfree, vegan Cashew Halwa that’s sweetened with dates.

Here’s a super easy vegan Cashew Halwa that literally takes minutes to make. Bonus: it’s sweetened with dates so it’s actually good for you. The base comes together in a blender, then give it a spin on the stove for a bit, et voila! Celebrating a compassionate Diwali has never been easier, and the animals will thank you, as will your waistline.

Front photo of a bowl of vegan cashew halwa garnished with nuts, dry fruits and coconut flakes with a green napkin.

In my home we’ve celebrated a vegan Diwali for years now with tasty and dairy-free sweets like my vegan Gulab Jamun, vegan Barfi, vegan Laddu, and vegan Rabri, among many others. This year, I am so proud to add this vegan Cashew Halwa to that list of goodies.

This is a special recipe, not just because it is delicious but it is also actually good for you, sweetened as it is with dates. Dates are packed with fiber, magnesium, potassium, as well as antioxidants that shield you from heart disease and cancer, and they do a wonderful job of sweetening desserts without any need for processed, refined sugars that can harm you.

Before I move on a gentle reminder to my fellow Indians who are celebrating Diwali in India to protect street animals, and your pets, from fireworks. While fireworks have long been part of Diwali celebrations, we are now more aware than ever of the immense harm they cause animals who are far more sensitive to those loud and fiery outbursts than we are.

Street animals are especially vulnerable and some even become victims of deliberate cruelty at this time. In addition to not using fireworks, try and offer a safe shelter for street animals in your neighborhood this Diwali. It’s the best way to teach future generations the importance of compassion and to make the gods smile on you. ????

A happy Diwali to you!

Why you’ll love this vegan Cashew Halwa

  • It’s delicious. The cashews along with the dates, cardamom, saffron and coconut make an addictive and incredibly delicious dish.
  • It’s easy. Unlike most Indian sweets which can involve a lot of work, this one takes under 30 minutes to make. You blend up the cashews and dates and then heat it all up in a wok for a few more minutes. It’s foolproof and anyone can make it.
  • It needs just eight ingredients, of which three are optional. You can also add more nuts and dry fruits for garnish.
Overhead shot of vegan cashew halwa with nuts, dry fruits and coconut on a silver tray with a spoon and cashews scattered around.

Ingredients for vegan Cashew Halwa

  • 1 cup raw cashews. You can use cashew pieces here, no need to break out the whole cashews, which are pricier.
  • 6-7 Medjool dates. The dates are the only sweetener in this recipe and this quantity should be more than enough for a sweet Halwa. However, if you like your Indian sweets really sweet, as they tend to be, use up to eight. If using Deglet Noor dates, which are not as sweet, you might need three or four more dates.
  • 1 ½ cups oat milk. Oat milk is great here because it’s creamy, but you can also use almond milk or cashew milk or coconut milk.
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil. Or any unflavored vegetable oil, definitely not olive.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom. I often get this question so would like to clarify that for Indian sweets you’d always use green cardamom, not brown. Brown cardamom, which has a musky, earthy flavor, is best used in savory dishes.
  • ¼ cup ground almonds or almond flour. This adds a nice depth of flavor but you can skip it.
  • ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes. You can leave these out, but they add a nice complexity to the texture of the halwa, and more deliciousness. Keep in mind that storebught sweetened coconut flakes are not naturally sweetened. You can also use freshly grated coconut, which tends to be sweet.
  • A pinch of saffron strands. This, like the coconut, is optional, but adds a nice flavor.
  • Nuts and dry fruits for garnish. Blanched, sliced almonds, pistachios, apricots, raisins are all fine. I used some dry cranberries for a local, seasonal flavor.

How to make vegan Cashew Halwa

  • Place the cashews and dates (pitted) in a blender. Add the nondairy milk and blend into a very smooth paste. If your blender is not powerful you will need to soak the cashews with the milk for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a kadhai or wok or large skillet, preferably nonstick. Add the pureed cashews and dates to it and let it cook over medium-low heat. Mix frequently and don’t leave the stove unattended and be attentive as nuts can burn easily.


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