In every Indian household, festivals are a special time. In my childhood, our home in the hills of Kohima was no exception. Those days there were no sweet shops around as they do now, and so, in the build up to the annual Durga Puja—the biggest Bengali festival of the year, we would wake up to the aroma of varying flavours as Ma and grandma would so painstakingly make, every afternoon, after the regular chores would get over.
While my brother’s fondness for sweets was well-known, I stayed away from anything sweet and enjoyed my savouries instead. Every summer, grandma would come to spend a few months with us, and whenever she came, our home was filled with the sweet essence and aroma of her beautiful cuisines. I was grandma’s favourite and she often preferred me over my little brother, which at times did bother me. I thought this was probably because she had nine sons and although she always longed for a daughter, her four granddaughters had fulfilled that wish for her. We girls were a privileged lot, and thoroughly pampered by grandma—something that always left the brothers jealous!
I recall a funny memory from a time when I must have been twelve or thirteen. It was late autumn, and grandma had just arrived only a few days before Durga Puja, all eager to treat us to the goodies that was customary during the season. Her culinary skills being exceptional, she prided herself on how she had mastered her art to perfection. There were many stories of how with her deft hand at cooking, she could get people to even eat things they didn’t often like. Over the next couple of days, our kitchen was getting ready for sweetmeats of every kind under the sun. Ma was pleased that her kitchen was well-stocked with such delectables which she was now happily going to serve her guests on day of the much-awaited Vijaya Dashami party at home.
The day before the D-day arrived, our home was ready to welcome everyone, with a splendid fare that would put our neighbours to shame. Not that it was intended that way, but the fact is none of the neighbours could compete with grandma’s prowess in the kitchen. After dinner was over, Ma decided to ensure that things were ready for the following day. When she came back from the kitchen, there was horror writ all over her face. She was vexed how most of the sweets were gone, leaving just a few to serve to a handful of people when, actually a houseful was going to turn up the next day! The home-help was summoned, who confessed he knew nothing about it but in his bid to save himself, he spilled the beans on little brother who he had seen carrying a big bag in the evening when he was going out to play, with his friends waiting by the side of the fence. It was apparent, who the real suspect was, but since it was way too late, and the suspect was fast asleep, we all had to wait the next morning, when brother was rounded up.
It was quite a sight to see my little brother’s smile gradually disappear behind dark cumulonimbus clouds, before he burst into tears, finally confessing to his crime. He narrated how he stole out some sweets for himself and his friends and how they had cajoled him to get more since they loved it so much, and how, he had no choice but to come back for more—which is when our home help had seen him. Ma was angry but Grandma was livid with rage, as you can well imagine! But, I being the protective elder sister, had to do something about it. So, promptly, I decided to shield him by shifting part of the blame on myself. I told Ma I had helped brother and that I should also be held responsible for it. I uttered these words, totally leveraging on the fact that grandma would go lenient with me, which she did, much to the relief of a little fellow who looked up in obligation at how I had saved him. Things we do for our siblings!!
As the years go, these are the memories that tug at the heart, of people you loved and people who loved you unconditionally. Memories are precious, aren’t they? I love them. I bask in their bliss and warmth and retell them to my son, for him to look back fondly and share with his family someday, years later.
Of all the things that Grandma used to make, the first that comes to mind is my perennial favourite gajar-ka-halwa which has remained a constant even till this day. Today, I’m sharing her recipe with you. It is very simple dish that is easy to prepare and perfect to serve during the winter season when the red carrots are in plenty.
GAJAR KA HALWA – Recipe
I prefer the red carrots, you find most commonly in North India. In Bangalore, though, we get them only during these winter months. In case you cannot get the red ones, let me assure you, even the Orange variety will do. Eventually, the most important ingredient you can add to any recipe is love, so, there you go. 🙂
- Carrots: 1Kg
- Milk: 1 litre
- Ghee 4 tablespoons
- Cashews 30 grams
- Raisins 30 grams
- Cardamom 10 – 14 (peeled and ground)
- Pistachios to garnish
- Peel and grate the carrots first.
- Then, simmer in milk in a pan with the cardamom powder sprinkled on it, until all the liquid evaporates and the milk thickens.
- Now, heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the carrot mixture. Mix well and keep stirring over a gentle heat for 10 mins. Cover the lid occasionally and let the carrot soften.
- Add milk and sugar and continue stirring on gentle heat until the carrot turns deep red in colour.
- Add cashews and raisins and take it off the stove.
- Garnish with Pistachio and your gajar-ka-halwa is ready to serve, either hot or cold, as you prefer.
Joining Sunita and Shilpa, today for #FlavoursomeTuesdays, this week.
In case you’re interested, they have a linky party on the first Tuesday of every month where they invite bloggers to bring along food memories, stories, food photos or even restaurant reviews. All you got to do is:
- Write a blog post and hashtag it #FlavoursomeTuesdays
- Drop your links in the comments on their respective blogs.
- Share the love on social media.
- Sit back and enjoy the party.
That was a lovely story. Things we do for siblings. Btw – I wasn’t as good as you. I ran away from the scene when my brother messed up. But yes when he was being chided I asked Mum to let him go cos he was younger 😉
I love gajar ka halwa but made from the red ones. The orange one doesn’t get the flavour right for me. Your recipe is like making milkmaid at home and adding to the gajar. Yum. I will try this one as I have a different way of preparing.
Thanks, Parul. Yes, we always thicken milk before adding the carrots. That’s how I saw my mom cook it over the years. Thickening adds to the taste I guess. But, like you, I too have a preference for the red carrots, as I find it is that one ingredient that makes it so delectable. 🙂
Arent siblings just the best!! I know the protective feeling as I get it for my younger sis all the time; no matter how pissed off I am at her – the need to be protective towards her is perennial.
I loved the food memory you shared here Esha – Kohima is an exotic sounding part of India for me and someday I hope to travel there. I so wish you were my neighbour – I would plague you with details of it and you’d be hard pressed to escape my wuestions 😉
P.S. I hate gajaar ka halwa- its my achiles heel and someday will regale you with that !!
Awww! Shalz…how can you hate Gajar ka halwa??? How, on Earth?! Ok…just joking! A lot of people do…for me its a great pick-me-up! I can have it any time of the day! 😀
Kohima is still beautiful although it has changed over the years and is a lot populated now than it used to be. I will send you the details, Shalz since you are so keen…would be great if you include Shillong as well! And thanks for stopping by the blog and sharing your thoughts. 🙂
Ahh, grandmoms are the best! Mine was a wiz cook too! Maybe it was that way with that generation, they excelled at all they did because cooking, keeping home, raising kids was their passionate chore. Loved your vivid narration that brought to life the old memories along with the aromas of festive sweetmeats. The gajar ka halwa recipe you shared is similar to how I make it too, I add a dash of khoya in addition.
True, Kala. Grandparents always have a special place that parents can never take…and rightly so! That’s how it should be, I think. I know…whenever we discuss the older generation it seems all our moms were the same hardworking, efficient, multitasking experts who loved to look after the family with a focus that is missing in us moms, today. Don;t you think so? I think we lot are too distracted with so much happening on the sidelines that we tend to miss that dedication to the family, no matter how sincere we are. I don;t know about you, kala, but I’m definitely that kind.
Glad to know our recipes are similar in this case. You mentioned khoya right?…I avoid khoya in any sweet that I eat/make because it tends to trigger a migraine attack in me.
I loved reading this story. You’re so very lucky you have a wonderful family and memories like the one you described to go with it. It sounds like there was a lot of love woven between you all.
Yes, I am blessed to have had so much love and affection within the family and even though I won’t lie about the not so pleasant experiences that also came alongside, it was not overriding the good ones. I love tapping into the mine of beautiful happy memories every now and then. So glad you stopped by to read and share your thoughts. Really appreciate this!
Dishes with story attached are lovely.. I am sure your brother did not hear the end of it and you continue making fun of him even now?
Oh yes, we never tire of the teasing and the banter that follows from these reminiscences every time the family gets together. So glad to see you stopping by the blog and sharing your thoughts. 🙂
Hahaha, as Shilpa says ‘Boys will be boys’!
The recipe is so simple and easy, but waiting for the milk to evaporate would be quite a task, na?
You’re right, Soumya. 😀
t really doesn’t take long for the milk to evaporate and thicken. At the max, 15 mins, Soumya, so not very time-consuming, if I may add. Do give it a shot. You can use milkmaid condensed milk (if you want to replace the process of evaporating the milk) and the entire recipe will be done by 15 mins! 🙂
Oooh…I love the story, Esha! The things boys get up to!
I’m not much of a gajar ka halwa fan, but my husband loves it!
Thanks a bunch, Corinne. Yes, I agree, boys will be boys, no matter what! 😀
I wanted to be the first to comment on your blog but everyone else got there before me! What can I say but thank you for another wonderful post from your pen. I can only imagine how terrified your brother must have been. Now as a granny all I can say is that I would have been flattered that my little grandson fed the whole neighbourhood with my barfi…….though of course at that time I would have been livid too! Thanks for the halwa recipe. I will try yours because I love the colour…. it’s my favourite halwa too…and I look forward to your presence at our table next month!
Sunita, thank you so much. You know you’re an inspiration to me with the way you present your recipes and your beautiful writing, both unique in their own ways! So much to learn from being in this amazing group of bloggers…I’m glad i could join in and it was lovely hopping from post to post, reading all the lovely posts.
As you know, grandmas can never be angry for long, so was mine, but only after giving a earful to us kids. Thanks for hosting such a lovely linky party. I hope to join again next time. 🙂
This is a beautiful story that came livid through your beautiful writing.
Thanks, Tina. Glad you liked it. 🙂
That is such a heartwarming tale.
Thanks, Lata. Glad to see you here. 🙂
Sibling love is always special. And grandma is always special to heart. I remember her in many old songs heard with her. Your post brought back many lovely memroies
Thanks, Geethica! Yes, grandma’s love is a very special feeling that wraps me up in a warm cozy feeling on cold winter days. Glad your memories came back to bring you that feeling. Thanks for stopping by the blog and sharing your thoughts, Geethica.
You’re welcome Esha…And thanks to you for sharing memories associated with food.
That was quite a memory, Esha! I can imagine the terror your younger brother must have experienced on getting caught! Boys will be boys, I say! 😛
It was a pleasure reading your foodie tale as well as your recipe of one of my favourite desserts.
keep ’em coming, girl!