Of ‘Maa ka Pyar’ and Gaajar ka Halwa ( And Beetroot, too)

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Two brothers; One a cop, the other on the wrong side of the law. Both brought up in poverty by their hard-working widowed Mother.

The cop tries to convince the other brother to surrender to the law while the gangster tries to convince the cop to join the other side.

Says the gangster to the cop : “Aaj mere paas gaadi hai, Bangla hai, Rupya hai. Tumhare paas kya hai?”
( Today, I have Cars and Bungalows and Money. What do you have?)

Says the Cop to the gangster (Drumroll, Please) : “Mere paas Maa hain aur maa ke haath ka bana gajar ka halwa hai”.
( I have Mother on my side and the Carrot pudding she makes)

For the uniniated, this is the scene from the movie “Deewar” which defines Bollywood, the hindi-language film industry of India. Of course, the carrot pudding part was my addition. The cop doesn’t say that in the actual movie. But hey, he just might have. See, the movie ends with the gangster dying, in the arms of his mother, reminiscing about her gajjar ka halwa (If i remember right. Or was it some other movie where Amitabh dies in the end?). See, every Hindi film protaganist talks about the love for his mother and her “gajjar ka halwa”. At least they did in the 70’s and the 80’s. Almost all movies, introduce the mothers character with her son walking into her kitchen with demands for that delicacy. I had always wondered why gajar ka halwa? Why not anything else? Now, I have a theory.

See, carrots are really cheap in India. So even the more poorer homes can afford to grate some carrots, add some sugar and make this dish. Secondly, most mothers probably thought,” Ok If this is what it takes for them to eat something healthy, then why not?. Eat on, bete(Son)”.Of course, its more healthier counterpart, Beetroot halwa, doesn’t really work. Because, you see, it just looks too healthy. All that fabulous color and you know that, that thing is good for you. How can something that healthy be your favorite food?. Besides, Can you imagine someone saying ,”Maa, tumhare shakunder ke halwe ki yaad aayi”. So, gaajar ka halwa, it was?

Do you agree? Or have you got any other theories? Lemme know…

Don’t discount the beetroot halwa, though. Its amazing served warm with a scoop of ice cold vanilla Icecream on top. Hmmmmmm……Hmmmmmm…Good!!!

For now, heres the recipe

2 cups grated Carrots/Beetroots, Whichever you choose to make.
4 cups Whole Milk
2 cups Sugar
A pinch green cardamom powder
1 tbsp Ghee
Chopped nuts of your choice

I cheat on the sugar part sometime. Add less of the sugar. But, 1:2:1 ratio of Carrots:Milk:Sugar is the ratio my Mom uses for all her veggie Halwas.

Put the carrots and the milk in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer and stir and simmer and stir and simmer and stir and simmer. Until the milk dries up. Basically, you are making khoya (Milk dried into its solids), but its gonna have all the delicious carrot/beetroot flavor in it. This takes about an hour. Once done, add the sugar, cardamom powder and keep stiring and cooking, till the sugar melts and reaches softball stage. Basically, the halwa starts spewing like a volcano spitting lava. Do I have to remind you to watch your hands while you are stirring this? Once it reaches this stage, add the ghee, stir once and take it off the flame. Serve warm. Stays good in the fridge for about a week, but mine never lasts that long.

This is my entry to Revathi’s FMR-Comfort Foods and ARF/ 5-a-day Tuesday at Sweetnicks

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Dosa…A Love Story.

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He beckons me as I sit sipping my morning coffee watching the world go by from the kitchen window. I try to ignore him but his pristine whiteness calls out to me.

"You know you want me",he says. I stubbornly keep looking out the window.

"I have moved on", I say. "I don't want you as much anymore".

"That's a lie. You wish, I was with you right now, sharing the coffee with you".

"No. I told you, I have moved on. There is a whole new world out there. Its simple,its easy and they dont need as much time as you demand of me."

"Yes, But you always come back to me.You can't stand the quick and easy types for more than a day". I say nothing. It was the truth. I just crave for him.

"You miss me…"

"Alright, alright,you are right, ok. I do miss you. I can't resist you." I blurt out.

"In that case,you know what you have to do." he says.

I nod. There is no point fighting it. It is always like this. I try to ignore it, to get out of the commitment. But, I always give in.

I get up, measure out 1 cup of urad dal, wash it till the water runs clear. Almost on automation, I measure out 2 cups of rice and do the same. I mix both , soak them in water and keep it aside. I don't want to look at it. I don't want to think about him. What is this hold he has over me? Why is it so difficult to let go? Maybe because he's been there ever since I can remember. How do you let go of so many years of togetherness?

I go about my day as if nothing had happened, as if I hadn't given in to my carnal cravings once more. I smiled, I nodded, I laughed as if it was all another day. But, I am thinking about him all the time. Its useless fighting it and I give in. I stop trying to ignore that he isn't on my mind. And it's like a weight off my shoulders. I can't wait to go home.

Late evening, I go to him. He is ready, so am I. I drain the water and put him in the blender. "I have to invest in a dry grinder soon", I say to myself. "It's just not fair to him". I add a little bit of water, and let the blender go at him.I want him to get as fine as he can be. It whirs and grinds as all the while I am humming to myself. Round and round he goes, hugging the blenders contours, thoroughly enjoying himself. But, soon he heats up even though he is not as fine as I would like him to be. I shut off the blender and let him cool off. I start the blender again and this time after a little while, he is all ground up and fine. I touch him, Oh, he is smooth. I giggle like a little girl and pour him into a large glass bowl.

I look at him. "Nurture me", he whispers. "Take good care of me."

That's when the doubts start hitting me. What if I didn't do it right? What if I didn't soak him long enough? What if he is still not ground enough? I shake my mind to throw those doubts away. I have committed myself to this. Might as well see it through. I open up my oven making sure it is not hot and put him in. I keep the light on, just to be sure. I carry on with the rest of the evening resisting the urge to go peek. Just before retiring for the day, I go to him and take a peek.

He seems to wink at me."I will be fine", he says.

I believe him and go to sleep. I wake up in the morning itching to see if he's ok. But I'm scared. I start on the sambhar as I try to find the courage to look at him. Wash the dal, put in chopped potatoes, onions, tomatoes, sambhar pwd , salt and let the pressure cooker do its job. Did I take good care of him? I throw in the grated coconut, a piece of ginger, salt and green chillies in a blender and try to let the doubts drown in the noise of it. No such luck. "Nurture me", he had said. Did I do it or did I let him down? I season the chutney and the sambhar with mustard seeds and curry leaves. I keep a pot of water on the burner to make some authentic coffee. There is nothing else to do but to take a look at him now. Slowly, I open the oven and sneak a look. Oh…he is fine. All light and puffed up and all proud of me. "You did good". I am glad.

I heat up a griddle and bring it to smoking point. I take a wet tissue and wipe the hot griddle with it. Now, it is ready for him. I take a ladleful and pour it on the griddle. It makes a sizzling hot sound and its like something takes over me. I just go with the flow and start spreading him out on the griddle into concentric circles until there is no more to spread. I drizzle a little oil over him and let cook. After a while, I turn him over and let the other side cook up. From the corner of my eye, I see my family rush in, all excited, no doubt from the sizzling sound and the aromas now wafting around the house. I barely notice as I am in a zone.I keep churning them out, one after another, until I hear a loud burp. *I hope it's my son*.

">Dosa Plate

He beckons me as I sit sipping my morning coffee watching the world go by from the kitchen window. I look at my dosa, take a bite and close my eyes.

I am home.