Happy Diwali to all of you! May the Indian Festival of Lights brighten up your lives, illuminate your homes and your minds. May Health be there… Happiness will follow. May Peace be there… Prosperity will follow. May Love be there… Luck will follow. Today’s recipe has been lovingly cooked by my Aunt who’s been visiting us for a while. While she left for Kolkata two days back, she cooked this special Gajorer Payesh/Carrot Pudding and put it in the freezer so that we could have a special dessert for Diwali!
Festivals all over the world have the same essence – they bring families and friends together. A small excerpt form an earlier post Semaiya Kheer/Vermicelli Pudding, Eid in Dubai… Eid Mubarak!… While a lot of us living in Dubai are lucky enough to be with our friends and family, many of us are not. There are many people toiling in the city just to earn a living so that their loved ones can have a decent life back in their home countries. My greetings and warm wishes to all of them. Most likely, my wishes are not going to reach them I doubt that these people are going to read my post. Writing food posts while taking photo-shots of them in well laid out dining table in the air-conditioned comforts of our humble home, may seem preposterous to some. But I was awake to greet Eid Mubarak to the man who delivers the newspapers daily as early as 3 am in the morning, throwing out the newspapers as he stands inside the lift, aiming them perfectly as they land in-front of the main doors of the different apartments in the floor that we live in. At the time I had greeted him, he had 30 more floors to go!
This time I woke up early to greet him for Diwali. It didn’t matter whether he’s a Muslim or a Hindu, whether he celebrated Diwali or not. My greetings are as much as for him as it is for everybody. I’ll be greeting him during Christmas. For me what matters is that Festivals give us an opportunity to reach out to people who are there in our daily lives but to whom we don’t have the time to reach out at other times. Every day can be the day but today is definitely the day. Happy Diwali everyone!
Gajorer Payesh/Carrot Pudding
Category – Dessert; Cuisine type – Bengali Fusion/Indian
Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth –
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!
Gajorer Payesh is not Gajjar Ka Halwa!
Why is this a Bengali Fusion Dessert and not a traditional Bengali recipe? Gajor or Carrots have probably now entered into Bengali desserts but predominantly it has been Gajjar ka Halwa which is a very popular Indian Dessert, specially in Punjab. The dish originated from the nut dishes introduced by the traders from the Middle East and South Asia during the Mughal period. In-fact, Halwa is an Arabic word meaning ‘sweet’. Vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, potatoes and snake squash have also been used in the Middle East for making similar desserts. Gajjar Ka Halwa is traditionally a festive Indian dessert eaten during Diwali, Holi and other Indian festivals. Eaten smoking hot during the winters, Gajar Ka Halwa is now eaten the year around as Carrots are no more a typical winter vegetable, courtesy hybrid and other farming technology!
Payesh in itself is a very important traditional Bengali dessert. The only other way to explain the importance of a traditional Payesh/Rice Pudding is to compare it with Champagne. If you can understand the importance of Champagne to bring in a family celebration then you can probably understand the importance of Payesh. Or say, cutting a cake on a birthday. For a Bengali, a spoonful of Payesh is a must on a special occasion. Also, the first spoon of non-solid food that goes into a Bengali child during Annaprashan or the First Rice is Payesh (for traditional Payesh you may read an earlier post – Notun Gurer Payesh/Traditional Bengali Rice Pudding & My Dida).
While Gajjar ka Halwa uses grated Carrots and is cooked in Ghee and Milk till it becomes dry, in Gajorer Payesh, my Aunt has used rounded slices of Carrots in the traditional Bengali Payesh recipe – Gajjar ka Halwa adapted in Bengali style Payesh. The Carrots tastes more like a creamy layer as you’ll find in the Calcutta Rabri (the picture below) rather than in the Gajjar Ka Halwa! This famous version of the Rabri hails from Calcutta. As the sweetened milk starts boiling, a layer of cream begins to form on the surface of the milk. That is taken off and kept aside. Repeated process of the same results in the Calcutta Rabri – layers and layers of cream floating in sweetened and thickened milk. Needless to say this is extremely rich and creamy and is bound to be heavy on the stomach and extremely fattening! (More here)
Serves 6-8 persons (maybe less if they happen to be sweet-toothed Bengalis!)
Preparation time – 2 hrs maximum (Boiling the milk with Rice and thickening it by constant stirring – 45-50 minutes; setting up – 10 minutes; Refrigeration – 30 minutes)
Gajor/Carrots – Long and slender, 5 pieces; chopped into ultra-thin round slices
Full Cream Milk – 1lts*
Sugar – 1 cup (if you are using sweetened condensed milk then use less of sugar)
Cardamom pods – 4, crushed into powder
Cashew Nuts – 1/4 cup, unsalted
Ghee/Indian Clarified Butter – 4tsp
Mitha Attar – a drop for the sweet perfumed aroma of Attar (Availability? Well, I haven’t checked on the local supermarkets but had got mine from a little spice shop in the Spice Souk in Deira)
Rose water – 1 tsp (if you are using Mitha Attar then there’s no need to use Rose Water)
* You may substitute this with Low-fat Milk. Many prefer to use sweetened condensed milk – in that case you will need much less milk (1 lt low-fat Milk, 1/2 cup sweetened low-fat condensed milk)
Method of Preparation
– Heat 3 tsp Ghee in small wok. Stir the Carrots in the Ghee for a little while till it turns slightly soft and set them aside
– Boil the Milk in a Dekchi/a flat bottomed pan (Dekchis are usually used for cooking Rice. Please note that Payesh is always made in utensils meant for cooking Rice or kept separately and hasn’t been used for any other type of cooking. This is because of it’s susceptibility to catching the smell of other cooked items. Stir constantly is required so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t get burnt)
– Add the Carrots when the milk comes to a boil
– Add the Cardamom, Sugar, Cashew nuts, Almonds, Raisins, sweetened condense milk (if you are using)
– Lower the temperature and keep on stirring until the Milk really thickens (this should take about 45 minutes to an hour!)
– Add a tsp of Ghee during the last 1 minute of stirring
– Adda Mitha Attar or Rose water
– Garnish with Cashew Nuts
Let the Gajorer Payesh/Carrot Pudding set for a while and refrigerate it. Serve it cold. However, some prefer to eat their Payesh smoking hot, just after it has been taken off the fire!
The essence of Rose water in Indian Desserts
Rose water (above) has been used in Indian Desserts for a long time. Ladies from the royal courts of India have been using Rose water for ages in the form of cosmetics. The fragility and the aroma thus transcends naturally from cosmetics to cuisine. Originating in the Arab world and the Middle East the custom must have crossed the borders along with Muslim invaders and traders. Rose water is also used in many other parts of the world as can be seen below (reference courtesy: Wikipedia)…
Rose water was first produced by Muslim chemists in the medieval Islamic world through the distillation of roses, for use in the drinking. Rose water is used heavily in Persian and Mesopotamian cuisine—especially in sweets such as Nougat, Raahat and Baklava. It’s also used to give Loukoum/Turkish Delight their distinctive flavours.
The Cypriot version of Mahleb uses Rose water. In Iran, it is also added to tea, ice cream, cookies and other sweets in small quantities. In the Arab world and India it is used to flavour milk and dairy-based dishes such as rice pudding. It is also a key ingredient in sweet lassi/Yogurt Drink, sugar, various fruit juices and is also used to make Jallab. In Malaysia and Singapore, Rose water is mixed with milk, sugar and pink food colouring to make a sweet drink called Bandung. Rose water is frequently used as a halal substitute for red wine and other alcohols in cooking. In parts of the Middle East, rose water is commonly added to lemonade.
In Western Europe, Rose water (as well as orange flower water) is sometimes used to flavour Marzipan. Rose water was also used to make Waverly Jumbles. American and European bakers enjoyed the floral flavouring of rose water in their baking until the 19th century when vanilla flavouring became popular.
In the United States, Rose syrup is used to make rose scones and marshmallows.
Diwali in Dubai & the essence of multicultural living
Diwali is celebrated in a big way in Dubai and the credit does go to the fact that amongst all the Indian festivals, Diwali has managed to elevate its’ popularity level amongst the non-Indian communities living in Dubai. Probably world-wide! I love the fact that Z-Sisters‘ school celebrates Diwali even though the school follows the British curriculum. This is the very essence of living in Dubai. There are 12 nationalities amongst the 24 students in Big Z’s class! Yes, they will also be celebrating St Andrew’s Day, Christmas, Chinese New Year, Eid and many more festivals around the world. In-fact Big Z’s topic right now is Festivals!
Tomorrow, Big Z will be giving a small power-point presentation that Mummy Dear has made on Diwali – the story of Ram-Sita returning home; how Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped; what do the Indians do during Diwali… Both the sisters will be painting on Diyas/earthen lamps along with all the other friends as a part of Diwali activity in school. A friend of mine who owns an Indian Sweet shop in Karama and has her son studying in the same school, will be distributing nuts-free Indian sweets in school. Most schools in Dubai are predominantly adhere to a nut-free policy. And yes, the dress up code for the Diwali day is ‘Indian clothes’!
Residential areas in Dubai like the Golden Sands area (behind Burjuman), Meena Bazaar have already brightened up with colourful lights hanging from the balconies. Shikhadi, my very good friend who’s now become a part of our family was kind enough to send a picture clicked from her balcony. Does this look like Diwali is being celebrated in a foreign land, many many miles away from the Indian shores?
Diwali will light up our houses. But this Diwali, I pray that the lights brighten our minds and our thoughts as well. Also praying for peace and happiness for people struggling in the war-torn regions all around this region and in the world.
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.
My Dubai diary in this blog:
♦ Things To Do In Dubai – Like A Tourist In My Own City – Showcasing the city I love to call my home!
♦ My First Authentic Emirati Food Experience! – Al Fanar Restaurant, Dubai Festival City
♦ Al Maha Desert Resort & Twitterati Lunch – Al Maha Luxury Eco Resort
♦ An Evening of Wine Tasting at Asado Wine Club – Asado Wine Club, The Palace Hotel, Old Town*
♦ The Label Project – Wines Tasted Blindly! – Invite to a Global Wine initiative from Jacob’s Creek
♦ TRIBES Celebrating South African Heritage Day! – TRIBES, the South African Restaurant in MOE*
♦ Locavorism in UAE, Friday Market♦ The Change Initiative Inspiration! – Dubai’s first sustainable store, restaurant & café
♦ Zatar Lamb, Crushed Lemon Potato with Chef Ron Pietruszka – Treat 2012, Burjuman World Food Fest + a Recipe
♦ Back To Dubai, Back to Costa –A nostalgic recount of favourite coffee haunt
♦ Searching for Shiraz – Lucknow to Kolkata to Dubai – Nostalgic search for Kolkata’s famous Shiraz Restaurant ends with Siraz opening in Bur Dubai. Exploring some Awadhi/Lucknowy Khana!
♦ Down To Earth Organic Store In Dubai & Mutton Chick Peas Curry – An event + a Recipe*
♦ Mums Who Share @JBR – A charity initiative
♦ Deep Sea Fishing & Fish Barbeque – Persian Gulf off Dubai Coast
♦ The Million Street, in the middle of nowhere – Rub Al-Khali Desert, UAE
Bengali Food Banters you’ll find in my blog:
♦ Traditional Bengali Cuisine… In ‘Slight’ Details! – An etymological explanation to the Bengalis’ food festish
♦ Pickles… Mother (-in-law) Of All Pickles! – My Pickle Nostalgia
♦ Momos in Tiretti Bazar – The Last Chinese Remnants! – A chinese Bazar near Poddar Court
♦ Phuchkas in Vivekananda Park – An ode to Dilipda’s ‘world-famous’ Phuchka
♦ Bengali Sweets That Came By Parcel! – Gujia, Jibe Goja, Abaar Khabo & Jolbhora
♦ Rôshogolla (রসগোল্লা) – Bengali’s Own Sweet – An essay on the most famous Bengali Sweet
Bengali Food Recipes you’ll find in my blog: (Do click on Recipes, Reviews, Events for a complete list of all food banters)
♦ Frozen Aam Pana/Green Mango Pulp… The Change Initiative Inspiration! – Traditional Bengali/Indian
♦ Locavorism, Friday Market & Tok Palong/Sour Spinach Chutney – Traditional Bengali
♦ Semaiya Kheer/Vermicelli Pudding, Eid in Dubai… Eid Mubarak! – Indian
♦ Mutton Kassa With Red Wine And Red Grapes – Bengali Fusion
♦ Khichuri As Harbinger of Hope & Kolkata Soaked In Rains – Traditional Bengali/Indian
♦ Hot Garlic Pickle… The Pickled Diary – Episode 1 – Indian Pickle
♦ Firni or Ferni, Ramadan or Ramzan, Mallick Bazar or Karama? – Indian Dessert
♦ A Tale of 2 Cities & Naru/Coconut Jaggery Truffles – Traditional Bengali
♦ Phuchkas in Vivekananda Park – Indian Street-food/Snacks
♦ Kaancha Aamer Chutney/Green Mango Chutney – Traditional Bengali
♦ Notun Gurer Payesh/Rice Pudding & My Dida – Traditional Bengali
♦ Rasgulla Macapuno – When a Filipina Turns Bong! – Dessert; Bengali Fusion
♦ Mango Lentil Soup/ Aam Dal – The Summer Combat – Dal; Traditional Bengali
♦ Easter Egg Curry – Side-dish; Bengali Fusion/Traditional Bengali/Continental
♦ Mashed Potato Bengali Style/ Aloo Bhaaté – Side-dish; Bengali Fusion
♦ Yoghurt Aubergine with Pomegranate – Side-dish; Bengali Fusion
♦ Purple Haze Yoghurt with Purple M&Ms – Dessert; Bengali Fusion
♦ Icecream Rasgulla with Blueberry Sauce – Dessert; Bengali Fusion