Carrot Fudge ( Gajar Ki Barfi) – Recipe


Summer is fast approaching in North India and the winter vegetables are disappearing from the markets. Fortunately the red juicy local carrots are still sweet to eat and readily available. I love sweets and carrot halwa is one of my all time favorite winter dessert but this time I wanted to do something different. After the success of besan burfi I decided to make carrot barfi. Barfi is mainly made from milk, ghee and sugar and has a lot of variations like kaju barfi, badam barfi, besan barfi and coconut burfi etc. The carrot and doodhi (bottle gourd) burfis are nutritious and have a delicious taste.

This particular soft burfi (fudge) is low on fat and sugar as the carrots were naturally sweet and barfi usually takes less ghee (clarified butter) than the traditional halwa.  Carrots are packed with nutrition and are full of vitamin A and antioxidants. Totally a powerfood.  Full of flavor and goodness of carrots this classic sweet is simple and easy to make.

We will need – 

Carrots – 1/2 kg

Sugar- 1 cup ( you can add sugar to taste depending on the sweetness of the carrots)

Ghee ( Clarified Butter) – 4 table spoon full

Green Cardamom Powder – 1 teaspoon

Raisins – 4 table spoons

Shredded Almonds – 4 tablespoons

Milk (Full Cream) – 1/2 Kg

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Method -

Select carrots which are thin and have less of yellow central part. I use the red local carrots and not the English ones but you can choose the ones available in your market.

Wash, peel and grate the carrots.

In a heavy bottom pan heat the milk and when it comes to boil add the grated carrots.

Let it boil for a minute then put it on simmer.

Let the mixture cook till it thickens and the milk is nicely absorbed. Slow cooking will turn the milk into khoya like texture so there won’t be any need for adding khoya.

Once all the milk is absorbed add sugar and continue to stir to avoid burning the mixture. Keep the heat at medium to low. The sugar will make the mixture a bit liquidy so let all the water evaporate.

Once the mixture is free of all liquid add ghee and stir. Let it cook in ghee at slow heat till the mixture starts to leave ghee from the sides.

At this point add cardamom powder, half of the shredded almonds and the raisins. Stir them well.

Take a tray or small cake tin and line it with foil or grease it properly.

Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture into the tray or tin. Smoothen it properly and sprinkle the remaining shredded almonds on top for garnish.

Let it set for at least two to three hours. You can keep the tray in the fridge too.

Once the mixture is set properly cut it into the desired shape ( square, rectangle or diamond ).

Remove the pieces on to a plate and serve. Unlike the halwa the burfi is eaten cold. You can add shredded pistachios or put silver vark if desired.

The beautiful and delicious orange-red burfi is ready to eat.

ps- The slideshow doesn’t show pictures in order . Sorry about that. Do follow the steps in the recipe. :)

Making Gram Flour and Fresh Coconut Fudge ( Besan Nariyal Barfi)


I love Indian sweets and besan laddoo and barfi  are my favorites. If you love the aroma of roasted gram flour and the divine taste of fresh coconut you will love this barfi. It is simple to make and can be stored for a longtime.  Gram flour and Coconut are both healthy ingredients and the recipe doesn’t use much fat. I like my barfi and laddoos to be a little crumbly but not dry.

To make the Barfi you will need :

Coarse gram flour – 1 cup ( the fine variety isnt good for the sweets. Corse one gives a good grainy texture)

Fresh desiccated coconut or coconut powder – 1 cup

Green cardamom – 4 (peeled and seeds grounded fine)

Raisins – 1/4 cup

Boora Cheeni –  3/4 to 1 Cup  ( I like to use Boora Cheeni for its texture and flavour. You can use granulated or powdered sugar too)

Almonds – shredded for garnish (optional)

Ghee (Clarified Butter) –  Approx 6 table spoons

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Method

First grate the fresh coconut ( if using it) and keep aside. Take the coarsely ground gram flour and dry roast till  slight brown. Slow heat is recommended. Add cardamom powder at this time. ( If you don’t have coarse variety then add two tablespoon of roasted semolina)

Once done take it out in a bowl and keep aside. Now dry roast the coconut very carefully till it changes color to slightly brown. Remove in a bowl.

Take the ghee and pour it in a non stick pan. When it heats up a little fold in the gram flour and keep stirring till a nice roasted aroma begins to fill the air.

Add the coconut to it at this point and keep stirring . Keep it on very low heat to avoid burning.

Once the mixture is smoothly browned ( I like it slightly darker and roasted well) add sugar. ( You can make syrup and add but not with boora cheeni. I never use sugar syrup and I don’t like to add water to the mixture)

Stir in the sugar, breaking all the lumps in the process.

Turn off the heat, add the raisins and pour the mixture in a greased square plate ( I didn’t have it so used a round one) . You can line the plate with greased aluminium foil like I did.

Let it set for an hour or till it becomes firm to cut.

Cut it in whichever shape you wish and store in an air tight box.

You can garnish the barfi with pistachios or shredded almonds. (I prefer not to garnish. It masks the heavenly flavour of the barfi IMO)

Enjoy!

You and Me – You Said


You said I was haunted, that my body was filled with shadows. You said I did not belong with you, that I was rebellious, difficult, unmanageable like my tresses.

You said I couldn’t be trusted, that I held words captive, that they became portals at my touch, possessed, like dark seeds planted in disturbed and twisted soil.

You said that I hovered between sleeping and waking, and in that limbo I was spinning webs, writing verses, stories, the words casting spells disguised as literature.

You knew fear. You feared the skeletons that rattled in your heart, the ones you could not escape, the echoes of memories that have haunted you across the years.

 

You said I disturbed the secrets long hidden inside you, those things you want so much to forget, the private darkness that erupts within you when you least expect it.

The fact that you abandoned me I was hurt, but injuries can heal; far worse than this you called me a witch, a Lorelei, a temptress 

and with those words

you stole my hope.

First Published in Life and Legends

Two Poems


First published in Le Zap XVI 

Observations 

1. Metro Poem

Laden with shopping bags

this poem rides the rush hour tide

at the metro station.

Coffee in hand, a packet of sugar

gripped between its teeth, a bag

strapped across its chest, hair

struggling to escape the floral bandana,

talking relentlessly into the bluetooth headset,

it makes its effortful way into the waiting train,

leaving behind a silage of memory.

 

 

  1. Train Poem

Inside the stuffy train compartment

a woman reaches inside her blouse for the

hidden money and gives a frowning glare

to the man staring from the seat facing her,

a  little boy  gazes out of the window

with a look of wonder at the world

 unfolding before him, his sibling

toys with her mermaid length braid,

twirls it between her lips and nose

like a mustache and looks around with a

glint of mischief in her eyes, two women

inch their way through the crowd, tagging

a couple of noisy kids, find an empty seat

and settle there, wedged together like a sections

of orange, the train passes enters a tunnel

and in the dark a teenager’s face glows

in the light of his mobile, disappearing

as quickly, a man dozes off on the shoulder

of his companion who is staring at his own reflection

staring at him from the darkness outside,

an elderly man in bright red shirt adjusts

his reading glasses and buries himself

in a popular newspaper, a woman

smiles to herself as she closes the novel

she is reading, her thumb carefully marking the page,

the man in the suit, a laptop bag hanging from

the shoulder suddenly abuses loudly,

hastily lowers his voice and continues to pour

his anger into the iphone,

In Contrast, a dry, bleak lifelessness prevails

outside the window, the hellish

summer sun spitting fire, devouring all

life on earth, bare trees, barren fields,

small towns, each a glimpse and then gone.

I close my eyes, the music of the wheels goes on

clickity-clak clickity-clak clickity-clak.

My Mother – A Poem


First Published in Le Zaporogue XVI by various authors

 

My Mother

 

He sat beside me

silent as a breath

memories of that summer

wrapped in the wet crumpled tissue

that lay on his lap, his wrinkled hand

resting on the walking stick,

and then he spoke;

“Your mother’s hands were brown and soft,

just like the phulkas she made, she was

an earth woman. I often closed my eyes

when she sang, her songs rose from the

soft rhythms of the water wheel, the tinkling

of bells around the bullock’s neck, the

sweetness of the mustard flowers, and

the crackle of the wood fire of her stove, they

carried with them the scent of damp earth.

Often I would quietly slip in and listen

to her sing as she went about

doing her daily chores, her wet hair

rolled in a towel or loosely tied

in a bun with one or two tendrils

framing the face.

It was a cruel summer that year,

the river had dried and the cattle

kneeled and bowed their parched

heads to the river bed pleading

for a tickle of life, the fields

turned brown and the leafless trees

stood naked and exposed, as if

atoning to their unknown sins

under the merciless sky.

It was on such summer day I

found her hanging from the cross-beam

in the ceiling, the wood was old and

rot riddled but it held her weight

well enough. Her hair, shorn off,

lay in a jumbled pile on the floor,

next to it were the clothes she had worn,

the milk on the clay stove and boiled over

and dried, the milk bottle smashed against

the wall, the house smelled of rage,

lust and struggle. In the courtyard,

the clothesline had collapsed under

the weight of sorrow, the swing lay

dismantled and chained, a lone witness

to her shame. The makeshift hammock

hung limply from the tree,

a kind neighbour had quietly

whisked you away as the town burned.

Clasping your infant body

 like a broken doll and a

picture of your mother in my pocket,

I took refuge at a patchwork of shelters

that had sprouted on the smoldering land.

A few of us sat under a small covering

of rags, tarpaulin and sheet metal,

holding whatever was left of our

precious belongings, somewhere

a man sharpened the knife on a stone,

click clack, click clack,

the blade glistened in the dark,

another one sang, his low mournful voice

made the night bleed with absence and loss,

but the sun rose just as it always did,

bearing no sense of loss, and with it

we too rose carrying our wounded

identities and slipped into the folds

of anonymity.

A few days ago I walked through that part

of the town where I lived and loved,

where she sang her songs, our old haunts,

the old well, our ancestral home,

nothing lives there anymore,

even the ghosts have moved on,

but the river now flows to the brim and

in the fields the mustard flowers

bloom in abundance, the earth, they say,

still sings the songs of estrangement, in

memory of that summer and

 the sky pours it rains.”

Mélange


wrap the darkness around me

I want to feel its inner surface

bone cold, lustrous black liquid silk

let this night be my grave

shhh…make no noise

my wounded heart sleeps

 *************

I turned you into a poem

I could never say out loud,

But deep within me

your name is a song on loop,

love has set aflame the night in my eyes,

the purple moon rides across the rufescent sky,

there is a carnival tonight

and I am fishing for stars.

*************** 

 my body tends to remembers

things i told it to forget

like the gaze of your thumb

encircling my breast

and all the conversations 

 had in the language of 

breath, tongue and lips 

***********

wrapped in the icy warmth of silence
memories have turned green
under the empty aching blue
of your absence.
I collect your whispers and
arranged them in tight sentences (lest they flee)
try to make sense of it.
In your absence
sadness of things speaks for you.
Your abject indifference has seeped in
and taken shape of everything around me.
Words have long since turned strangers
The cell phone has turned into a paper weight. 
No, if you think I am saying all this
because I miss you, you are wrong,
One doesn’t miss oneself but
gutters too have limits when the sky pours it’s rain 

**************

 

Overwhelmed by his scent,

she throws her arms around his neck,

 draws him close,

her breasts, full nippled,

brush against his chest.

Surprised, his arms stretch forward,

his hands  gently reach for her waist.

Afternoon light streams through

the window of the barroom,

and in that moment their lips meet.

He crossed a continent to be with her.

In their imaginations, in a virtual world,

they had merged their beings for months

now close at last, they talk, they laugh

and kiss as they explore,

Soon the moment will end

and all that will remain

will be a nostalgia,

echoes of  memories and 

moments shared

in nondescript bars,

cafe, and hotels.

 (inspired by a photograph by James Goddard. )