Showing posts with label carrot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carrot. Show all posts

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gajar Ka Halwa - slow cooker


Gajar-Ka-Halwa and Delhi winters are synonymous, in more sense than one.  Start November, and fresh, red juicy carrots flood the vegetable markets. By December, the were the most prolific fresh produce you’d find for the next three months. This deluge of carrots also coincided with the festive and the marriage season back home. There just was no escaping this rich Indian fudge like sweet made with fresh grated carrots, milk, and loads of ghee.  

Although it requires relatively few ingredients, the actual recipe varies from family to family. My mom’s style of cooking this popular North Indian dessert involved roasting the grated carrots with  a humongous amount of pure ghee in a heavy bottomed karahi, till the moisture evaporates completely. Then she’d add whole milk and sugar and cook till the carrots were mushy and milk evaporated. Then she’d top off with khoya, nuts and raisins and crushed cardamom seeds.  It was melt in your mouth delicious, but it also took a greater part of half- a- day from start to finish to get it done. Whenever I made it here in the US, I never got it right. First because I did not have any heavy-bottomed cast iron pots to cook it in- so the milk eventually, almost always, got stuck towards the end and gave me the burnt flavor. Second; for all my faux-health conscious issues, I always skimp on the ghee….and third, my patience usually lasts about 45 min or so. So if it don’t cook by then, I just assume it’s done :-)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Of 150 ramblings; 4 years; and things gone right....

When the dashboard threw out the number at me, I was surprised. Didn't know I could persist as long as I have, in this blogging atmosphere. A bit over 4years (started on Aug 9th 2009), and this post today will be my 150th. Just goes on to say that I jabber too much :-) Jokes aside, it's your support through all this time that kept the motivation alive.  This blog started as a means to relieve some of those feelings that threatened to suffocate me. It stayed private for a few years, open only to some family and close friends. My Life & Spice became a public blog at the insistence of my "bitter-better half" :-) And there has been no looking back since......

 I couldn't have done it without either A or those of you who are regulars at the blogger site and those that keep the encouragement flowing through my Facebook page. It is for you all that I keep it up through everything else that comes up in everyday life, sharing my trials and errors in the kitchen.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Seyal Bread- or Bread Upma

The very first childhood friend I can recall was a very pretty little girl who lived two doors down from us. She was a year older than me. We met when we hadn't even started school, and remained friends till her marriage right after graduation. Those early years, we were inseparable. She was Sindhi, and I loved her mom's food. Around 4pm, her mom would stand on the balcony and call me- that was her tea time, and she always made a warm "tiffin" to go with it, which I devoured.

Those early years, all our dolls married each other....until that last time......

My uncle brought me a life-sized baby doll that could walk, talk and blink her eyes from some far-away land. The day after I showed off my "Rosie" to my friend, she fished out an old moth-eaten bean-bag doll and declared that we should have a massive wedding for them. All aflutter, I agreed. we set up a roof-top tent on a warm summer evening. My mom stitched up a red dress for Rosie, while my friends' doll got boys' clothes and a turban. The menu included those little sweet Sindhi rotis that I think were called Loli; and my mom's chole-chawal. We were happy enough to invite our younger siblings to the wedding, and serve food in my "real" China dinner set- again a gift from my sailor uncle from some mysterious land.  Our brothers provided music by beating out-of-sync on their drums, while my friends' younger sister was the designated gypsy dancer. All went smoothly.  My bride arrived in my brother's prized, battery-operated car. We sang, danced and had a very fun wedding. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What's in a name? Gajrela or Gajar-ka-Halwa

The carrots back in India were a bright-red color, very tender and as juicy as can be. They appeared in the markets every year in mid-November, gave way to purple carrots around early March before disappearing altogether till next winter.  My mom was a huge fan of gajar-matar ki sabzi (which my dad and I wouldn't even look at). The two of us (my dad and I) could munch on kilos of raw carrots, everyday, for as long as they were available; much to the amusement of my mom.  My brother held the fort for carrot-haters in my family.  But we all came together and were united in our liking for the dessert made out of carrots; called Gajar-ka-Halwa; or Gajrela, as it was known in the Punjabi families around us.   Between the four of us, we probably bought a kilo of gajar (carrots) everyday, for the entire season. And as far as I can remember, we were never out of gajar-ka-halwa for as long you could buy carrots at a reasonable price.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raising the Bar- Carrot Haandvo

Apparently, the sweet and savory combination is a love it or hate it deal. There can be no happy middles here. I fall into the 'love it' camp. And I believe I get this from my mom's Western Rajasthan genes. Most of the north-west belt of India mixes sugar and salt in everyday food. I can almost hear my dad, who was more of a northern-Haryana product, scoffing at food with this kind of presentation, as in my naani's dal-chawal-boora-ghee combo.

We'd spend the whole 5 weeks of summer vacation at my naani's, without eating rice even once. This is probably why I remember the only time that we got to eat rice at her place was when my dad had come to pick us up - it was a rule that my naani imposed on him - and my naana (grand dad) suggested that rice be served for lunch as a special treat for my dad. And I, who loved rice enough to want it for every meal, was ecstatic. The request was nothing short of a major catastrophe in the kitchen though, for my naani's bhandara (a large room designated as grain and spice storage for the whole harvest year) was lined to the roof with sackfuls of wheat - but there wasn't a grain of rice in the house. I remember my youngest uncle being sent out to buy rice with special instructions as to whose farm it should come from. And if my memory serves me right, then my uncle 'paid' for that rice with an equal amount of my naana's best quality chana dal.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In a pickle!

This last week, I got together with a friend for lunch. The sun was out for the first time in ages, and it finally looked and felt like spring. As both of us peeled our oranges on a bench outside our work place, the thoughts meandered towards food we ate around Delhi University campus – mooli smeared with lemon juice, kamrakh, imli, bhel, matar-kulcha and finally the achaars at the million little dhabas and canteens we frequented. She watered at the thought of those baby onions pickled in vinegar while I couldn’t get my mind off of the mixed achaar my mom made. Like a little seed, the mental picture of that achaar embedded itself in my mind and grew to ginormous proportions as the day progressed. 

The first thing I did when I got home was to call my mom for recipe - and before giving me the recipe, she actually gave me a piece of her mind at being dragged out of bed at 6am, Indian time, for a measly recipe! I survived that, wrote the recipe down, and then spent the next 2h converting her fist, katori and spoon measures into more recipe-friendly terms! The next evening was spent collecting everything I needed for the achaar. I was amazed at how empty my pantry was when it came to replicating my mom’s recipes. And these were things that I’ll probably never ever use again…I could probably do without a few ingredients. A quick call back to mommy dearest assured me I could, and I was walking on air again…..
 
Sunday arrived – the day of all my trials and tribulation in the kitchen- and guess what? No sun outside but pouring rain. The first step in my mom’s recipe note card; wash veggies and dry them outside in the sun for 3h; wasn’t going to be. A desperate call back; only to be told that the veggies had to be dried in the sun- put a definite damper on the day. Boy, was I pickled....Put science to work, goad mom about why the sun was important, why drying with paper towels can’t work, and then the newsflash- sun dehydrates veggies. OK, mission accomplished; I could dehydrate veggies without the sun, and make this achaar here in pouring rain in the US of A!
Mixed Sweet and sour pickle
Cauliflower (Gobhi) 1head
Baby carrots (Gajar) 1lb / 1bag
Turnips (Shalgam) 1 lb
White vinegar 1/2cup
Jaggery (Gur) To taste
Mustard seeds 1tbsp
Fennel seeds 1tbsp
Methi seeds ½ tbsp
 Kalonji 1tbsp (optional)
Rai seeds powdered 1 tbsp (optional)
 Red chilli powder 1tsp
Coriander powder 2tbsp
Turmeric ½ tsp
Salt 2 ½ tbsp
Mustard oil ¼ cup
1. Cut the cauliflower into florets, turnips into thin roundels and slice the baby carrots lengthwise into two. Wash everything thoroughly and let drain through a colander for a few min.
2. Soak the gur in vinegar and stir occasionally to dissolve. I had the cubed kind, and I used 8 medium sized cubes for the entire recipe. You can always taste this and adjust the amount of vinegar to jaggery according to taste.
3. Put the veggies in a single layer on cookie sheets in the oven set to roast at 300F for 10-15 min. Turnips and carrots take less time than cauliflower florets. You’ll know by the wrinkling of the veggies when they’re done.
4. Turn the veggies over on the other side and roast them for another 5 min. Then turn off the oven, but leave the veggies inside till you’re ready.
5. Make sure the gur is dissolved and all the other ingredients are handy before proceeding to the next step.
6. In a kadai or wok, bring the mustard oil to smoking hot, then add all the seeds. Turn down the heat to low. Let splutter, then add the vinegar-jaggery mix. The oil will foam and rise up, so stir occasionally and keep an eye on it. Takes about 2 min for the foaminess to go away.
7. Now dump all your veggies in the oil mix, add the spices and mix to coat. Cook for an additional 5 min, and then turn off the heat.
8. Takes about a day or so to mature further in the jar; then it is ready to eat!
My two cents: It was good- no doubt about it. I could’ve notched the salt down a bit – the ½ tbsp I added over the 2tbsp, wasn’t needed. Other than that, I wouldn’t change anything here!
A word of caution: When mixing oil and vinegar, make sure the stove is turned down low- you don't want to set the kitchen on fire. Also, the oil-vinegar mix starts to sting your eyes as it cooks- it is to be expected, just do what you can to protect yourself. All the best!


Linked to: Walk through the memory lane hosted by Gayatri