Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gaajar ka halwa

To make Gaajar ka halwa is a lot of work, as you may very well know. I have made it a sum total of twice in my life. I recently got some nice fresh carrots from the farmers market and had been craving gaajar ka halwa ever since. So I set about making it. There's grating all those carrots, and the standing in front of the stove and stirring endlessly. It took me over 3 hours to make it, not to mention how a whole mountain of grated carrots - a result of intense grating and thumb pain- gets reduced to a small smidgen of halwa at the end of it. It is hard work with the results rapidly diminishing right in front of your eyes.

The next day, I took along the small dabba that was the fruit of my hard work to a friend's place who had invited me for lunch. Not wanting to land up with too little halwa, I exercised great restraint in not eating any of it, other than just tasting it to make sure it was cooked. All the way on the 2 hr train ride I kept thinking about the halwa in my bag. Soon after I got there, P began to heat up lunch and I brought out the dabba and kept it on her counter top. They were very happy and appreciative of my efforts. P even tasted a small bit and said it was nice. I then enjoyed the lunch that P put a lot of effort in making, and declared myself too full for dessert. That was perhaps mistake #2. Rest of the afternoon was spent discussing our respective weddings, photos, recent articles in the NYT, the great indian outrage and what not. I was having a really nice time with P, her husband and some friends of theirs I was meeting for the first time. Then P brought out the rasagullas. Now, I love rasagullas, but all the time they were being served I was eyeing my dabba of gajar ka halwa, still sitting on the counter. When I realised that it was not going to be served, I shamelessly asked out loud "Why is nobody having the gaajar ka halwa?". To which someone in the room responded- "no, no, I had it, it was really nice- just the way my mom makes it." Ohho. nice, I thought. Then more discussion on how each individual's mother makes gaajar ka halwa. All very nice, my inner voice was screaming out. Can we please serve some of mine, PLEASE? But ofcourse I did not scream it out. I just drowned my angst in the rasagullas and silenced my longing as no halwa was served.

Much more fun conversation and active debating ensued, and then chai and biscuits were served. Clearly, the time for halwa had passed and I decided that I might as well leave. It was getting dark and I had a long train ride home. So I declared that I was going to get going and as I got up to gather my things, P mumbled something about "hey what about your halwa dabba"..and right then, in my mind, I saw that this could go in several directions. I decided to make a quick deflection to the restroom and there I sat and mulled over strategies. First of all- why did she not serve it at all, and why was she talking about me taking it back with me now? Did she not like it? I could be offended, but I was so conflicted- I saw nothing offensive at all about getting to take it back with me. Or, I could ask her to serve it then. Or may be she didn't want to serve it because of the hassle (cups/spoons/dishes?) I could generously ask her to keep it. But I knew I couldn't do that with a straight face. So I finally decided to ask her to keep "Some" of it, that way she could have some of the halwa and I could eat some of it too.

So as I emerged from the restroom, empowered with my well-thought through strategy, I found P rinsing out my plastic dabba and handing it to me. Yeah- she somehow felt obliged to return me my tupperware, washed and clean, as she transferred all the contents into another bowl that went into her fridge.

There was nothing left for me to do now, other than take my khaali dabba and leave quietly. I was more or less done grieving the halwa on the long ass train ride back home, only to return to the the chore of washing the huge karahi in which the halwa was cooked and sweeping off stray crumbs and grated carrot off the floor. Nothing can be sadder than that. I have resolved to never make mistake #1 again, always save some of the halwa for myself to come back to before taking it to someone's house.


ETA: One week later, I text this friend P "Hey, I am in the city with some friends do you want to meet up?" She texts me back "No, we're having guests blah blah, but btw your gaajar ka halwa is still wowing me".

:/ Haan kyon nahin.


Prasoon said...

Super. All along whilst I read that, I wished that you should have saved some. Phir laga that forgot the dabba in the train but that was untrue too. And then I thought maybe you took the wrong dabba or some such but then, when you said nobody served and had etc etc, I wished that you would be happy for you could take it home n savor some yourself. But alas, kalyug hai ye :)

Loved the way you wrote this.

Calvin said...


I'm glad I can't cook :)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

:) Until now, I can't understand why it was not served. and why she had to wash off my tupperware? at least i could've scraped the bottom of the barrel. :)

:) ya good for you. :)

Prasoon said...

scraped the bottom of the barrel - sigh, you really need to buy some more carrot you know :)

P said...

Oh that is just brutal! Now you have to make one more batch. Maybe you can use store-bought grated carrots this time. They are not the best, but still good substitute if you don't want to spend another 3 hours :)
Few weeks ago something similar happened to me though much less tragic than yours. I didn't cook anything, but I bought a bunch of pretty cupcakes to go to a dinner invitation. After dinner my friend asked if we want some ice-cream. I had sore throat so I denied. J just straight out said no, which is very unusual for him. He never says no to ice-cream. Then the evening ended. As soon as we got in the car both of us immediately said "Will the cup cake place be still open?" :p

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Dude! i had bought and grated ALOT of carrots. grr. :p

cupcakes eh? sigh. was the place open? :)

damn. what is it with this kind of thing? i recall my friends words when i got the dabba out- she said "wow, you made this? for us? thanks !"...its like if you got it "for them" its now theirs and not for sharing? i really need to get to the bottom of this. :p

yeah i heard about grated carrots- may be i'll try them- for now its all too traumatic though.

Prasoon said...

Come on, you have to find strength. You need it, don't you?

Maybe your friend's should give you a call and say "wo gajar halwa accha tha bahut - aur kab banaogi - please next time leke aana" :D

Archana said...

Poor you. I would have probably shamelessly said "We should all try a little bit of the gajar ka halwa" while thinking "and the tasting will start with me". And forcibly brought out bowls and spoons too. Yeah, shameless me :-D.

Someone once piped up about gajar ka halwa in grad school. I put them to the task of grating carrots and promised to do the rest of the work. Though the end (minuscule) result was divine, that person NEVER again piped up :-D.