A Year and Still Going Strong - Yay! (Gaajar ka Halwa - I)

Carrot halwa 2

Align Center[I had written this post yesterday but due to server problems it did not get posted. Thanks! Sweatha for the blog birthday wishes - I did not want to but it did end up a 'thenga' yesterday:(]

Considering the fact that my Parents call me "Tirupathi Mottai", I must say I am proud of having been consistenly blogging all these months! For those who are wondering what "Tirupathi Mottai" means - well, I am afraid that yes! - it is another story!

Tirupathi is the earthly abode of Lord Venkateshwara. One of the beliefs is that getting oneself tonsured in Tirupathi solves troubles and problems. In this hope, despite knowing that all the hair goes into a roaring export business of wigs, and the one problem that is surely solved is dandruff, many people stand in lengthy queues just to shed off their hair. My husband does it because he is a believer. I am not an atheist but not an ardent devotee, yet I would love to try it because I like the style, but no one lets me!!

Nowadays Tirupathi Devasthanam employs both men and women barbers, but in the earlier days the story was different. Barbers were few, people too many and each barber would try to reserve as many customers as possible. The best way to ensure that customers did not get bored or go away, was to chop off a part of each person's hair and get on with the completions starting with the first one. That way the fourth or fifth customer could not wander off but wait for his own turn, or remain half-shaven. In their hurry to make money and shave more heads the barbers never tonsured properly, and hence the term 'Tirupathi Mottai" came in use to refer to half done jobs! Have you heard of this story? No? Wow! You are lucky!

My parents first used the term for me when I left music classes midway as a child. When I stopped shorthand class midway my Dad asked - "Tirruppi, Tirupathi mottai velaiyya?" (Is it another case of one of your Tirupathi mottai series), later when I left my law classes half way he just said - "Tirupathi mottai". Having been branded thus, I had no choice but to continue leaving footprints in most spheres of life! A month before my marriage I started a beautiful embroidery of a bridegroom astride a horse and a bride following in her 'doli'. The bridegroom needs a face still and the bride is in pencil. Sometime later, drowned in love I started a sweater for my husband - just last week I decided it will never get completed and gave away the front to someone and the rest of the wool too! By the time I started the sweater my husband had come to know of the story and smiled when he saw my half done projects and said - "Now I know what Tirupathi Mottai means." As an expectant mother I knitted a cap and a sweater. Happy with my completion, I started on a slightly more elaborate project - a romper that hasn't gone beyond the legs! Later I started working on a knitted frock, and the frilled design was so good I had many people asking me how it was done. The repetitions made it monotonous so the frills became the front of a skirt as my daughter had gained a few years by that time. She stared at the 'front piece' the other day and I told her it was the collar for her knitted top! I am still undecided on the top! My husband gifted me a suitcase few years back that contains a label - "Tirupathi Mottai". You know why!!

Coming back to present - you now know why I am thrilled! I have never been this consistent except for my scrapbooking hobby. Two days back P said - "Isn't that great?", you have been consistently blogging for a year now!" I closed my eyes for a minute to recollect the events that happened in my virtual world during this past year, and realised that I had grown quite a bit - as a blogger and as a person(my jeans and skirts know that!). For the past few years I have had the sinking feeling that my language had shrunk to a few thousand words - enclosed herewith, hereinabove etc., and I had lost control over penning my thoughts. Blogging regularly helped me go beyond a few 'notesheets', and share stories and recipes. I re-discovered the pleasure of meeting new people and the pleasure of interacting freely. I also made some really good friends and I am surprised this happened because I have always been wary of 'internet friendships'! As a blogger I came here not knowing the basics, underwent my moments of anxiety, and after the initial two months of safe and easy recipe posting entered the deep waters - read as event entering, playing around with my layout and things! Oh, damn! it is only 10minutes before 16th comes around....I will spare you and just get on with the birthday sweet!

I am celebrating my first year with a vegan 'gajar halwa' I made yesterday. I love making desserts during these months because they do not rest heavy in the stomach! I enjoy eating warm desserts most. This year the halwa has started its spree pretty late. Usually I make carrot halwa at least once a fortnight starting in December and stopping towards February end when the fat, red, juicy carrots get replaced by less attractive, bald orange sticks that we have to put up with!

Fat, juicy, red carrots - 1 kg. (Shredded)
Sugar - To taste (I used about 2cups)
Cashew paste - 1/2 cup
Roasted and broken cashew - 2 tbsp.
Slivered pistachios - 1 tbsp.
Vanaspati - 3/4 cup to 1 cup
(Updated after Bharti's comment as she is correct in her observation that hydrogenated oils are not very good for health. Vanaspati is hydrogenated oil - if you can find a better vegan substitute do use it. If you are not vegan ghee is better than vanaspati. I used this as a vegan alternative but this is not something I use regularly - am also looking for a better alternative.)

Heat a cooker or deep large kadhai with 1/4 cup vanaspati. Add carrots and cook stirring till done. Add sugar and go on stirring and cooking till almost dry. Add the remaining ghee, and cook stirring often till the carrot dries up, remains grainy but comes together into a mass. Add the cashew paste and mix it well so it spread evenly in the halva. Decorate with slivered pistas and garnish with cashew bits.
This should take about 45 minutes to an hour as the cooking is done on slow fire.
I added the cashew paste to give it the white grainy look 'khoa' gives, and succeeded. The vegan version is not as sweet as the usual thing as milk adds its own sweetness. You could increase the sugar if you like but this was just right for us. The amount of sugar depends on the sweetness of the carrots also. I usually add sugar and vanaspati in halves (instalments), so that I do not end up with excessive fat or sweetness.

My daughter has this with vanilla ice cream.


Carrot halwa 1

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