If you are in North India, winters are synonymous with gajar ka halva. I got to know this fact only after I came to stay in this part of the country 14 years ago. Not that I did not know of this sweet dish made of the healthy carrots but loaded with calories, but the cult status it enjoys in the region was kind of a surprise to me.
My mother used to put in great efforts to cook this dish. Grating the carrots was a must, because nobody at home liked the taste when it was cooked the easy way, by boiling and mashing the carrots. She would use all sorts of goodies to give it that heavenly taste.
A bowl of hot and tasty ghee-dripping gajar ka halva generously laden with dry fruits is all you need on a freezing cold day. The day I made the dish some days back was incidentally the season’s coldest day in Delhi.
Here goes my recipe of the winter beauty.
Food for thought: Gajar ka halva
Carrots: 1 kg
Sugar: 1/2 cups
Condensed milk: 1/2 tin
Milk: 1/2 litre
Khoya (Mawa): 200 grams
Cashew & raisins: 1/2 cup
Ghee (clarified butter): 4 tablespoons
Preparations: Grate the carrots and keep it aside. In a pan, heat ghee and fry the carrots till the ghee separates. The ghee will turn orange. Pour the milk and cook the carrots till done. Add sugar, condensed milk, khoya, cardamom and the dry fruits and cook till you get the desired consistency.
My 2-and-a-half-year-old son loves cakes. And I do not need a better reason to bake them. I have become so regular with cakes that my kitchen perpetually smells of the utterly-butterly calorie bombs. Well, maybe that’s exaggeration, but I do end up baking cakes once every fortnight if not week.
An unfinished bottle of wine had been lying in the closet for a long time and I decided to use it in the cake I was going to bake this time. I looked up on the Net for recipes and opted for a soaked cake for the simple reason that I did not want to completely deprive my son of it. I used the same batter to bake some extra that I did not soak in wine.
The recipe that caught my eye was one made with brandy. But I decided to substitute it with wine. Also, it was an almond cake, but I used vanilla instead. You can find the original recipe on allrecipes.co.uk.
So, here goes the recipe of the cake that earned me quite a lot of praise at a Sunday gathering.
Food for thought: Wine soaked sponge cake
Flour: 400 g
Sugar: 400 g
Butter: 225 g
Eggs: 4, separated
Milk: 250 ml
Vanilla essence: 4 teaspoons
Water: 450 ml
Red wine: 125 ml
Preparation: Preheat oven to 150C. Grease and flour your baking tin and set aside. Beat the butter and 250 g of sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, blending them well into the butter mixture. Add the flour alternately with the milk. Pour in the vanilla essence. Once your batter is ready, beat the egg whites in an absolutely dry bowl until stiff peaks form. Now, fold in the egg whites into the cake mixture. Don’t mix too vigorously, but ensure the egg white has evenly blended with the batter. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the preheated oven until a skewer inserted into it comes out clean. It may take around an hour or so, but do check before that if it’s ready. Turn off the oven when it is and let the cake cool completely.
In a pan, bring the water and 150 g of sugar to boil (for at least 10 minutes). Reduce heat and add the wine and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes and then remove from heat. Allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature. Now, prick holes in the cooled cake and then pour in the wine syrup all over it. Let it rest for some time and your wine-soaked sponge cake is ready to serve.
Last words: For best results, make sure the eggs you are using are in room temperature. Also, it’s better to use powdered sugar for the cake. It turns fluffy with butter faster. You can use granulated sugar for the syrup.