Gajar halwa – The dessert of winter

Gajar halwa or, as we fondly call it in northern India, gajrela, is a famous sweet made in all Punjabi homes during winter. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some even like it nine days old! It does take to refrigeration well and some families always have a large tin of gajar halwa so that they can enjoy it for as long as it lasts.
It is a must as a winter dessert. However, this dessert is high in calories and carbohydrates, so those who are conscious about their sugar intake can take a tip or two from my variations in Gajar and Khajur Halwa as well as Sugarfree Gajar Halwa. If you diabetic, or borderline diabetic, be careful about what you eat during the rest of the day, and save it for special occasions. The challenge in making a tasty gajar halwa with some compromise lies in retaining the full-bodied sweetness of the carrots and not to mask it with added sweeteners. My addition of dates is an attempt to reduce the amount of sugar and make the dessert healthier.
To make Gajar and Khajur ka Halwa, first heat a kadai. Add 8-10 medium grated carrots and ½ cup sugar and cook for about five minutes. Add 2 cups skimmed milk and continue to cook. Add ¾ cup seeded and chopped dates, 8-10 roughly chopped cashewnuts, ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder and mix. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes. When dry and cooked, add 2 tablespoons pure ghee. Mix well and this is best served hot. To use a sugar substitute, heat 3 tablespoons pure ghee in a kadai. Add 8-10 medium grated carrots and sauté for about five minutes. Add 2 cups skimmed milk and cook. Blanch 10-12 pistachios, peel and slice. Add ¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder, 10-15 sultanas, 18 measures sugarfree and mix. Cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. Add ¼ cup grated khoya and mix. Cook till the mixture is almost dry. Garnish with pistachios. Serve hot or cold.
When carrots are in season you could look at various savory options like Gajar Tamatar Pulao or Methi Gajar Muthia too. For different ideas during Diwali you could also make a Gajar Halwa Burfi or Gajar Kheer. But ask any Indian, settled in the east or the west, they will claim that gajar halwa is the best!

From the Korean land…

Here in Korea, for a business trip regarding Wonderchef. Left home on Friday, reached here and spent yesterday in Seoul…it has this eye opening high density landscape, just a vast array of skyscrapers! The city is fast, Mumbai seems slower. Have to catch up with the meetings scheduled for today in Busan, or Pusan as some still call it, and have to take some time off in the evening and explore the place a bit. Busan is just like Seoul, a busy metropolitan city of South Korea.
Back in home, the kids are busy preparing and studying for the half yearly examinations that begin today…As is the case always, Alyona will be cooking their favourites.

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor as Chief Crusader for the Billion Hearts Beating initiative on World Heart Day

World Heart Day falls on September 29. It is being celebrated nationwide by the Billion Hearts Beating Foundation, 3 year old initiative of Apollo Hospitals. The Billion Hearts Beating aims to make 1 billion Indians truly aware of the fact that heart issues are not just genetic but also can be controlled through lifestyle.
As an integral part of the 5 day run-up to the World Heart Day on September 29 , the Foundation is planning a series of activities on-air and on-ground, as part of the Happy Heart Fest. There are 5 Controls identified that if followed, make the heart stronger. These are an Active Lifestyle, Cut Smoking, Regular Health Check-ups, Beat Stress and a Healthy Diet. 5 Crusaders have been selected to represent one control each. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is one of these 5 Crusaders, to propagate awareness about a Healthy Diet for a stronger heart. He will be sharing his 10 favorite cholesterol free recipes with health tips for a healthy heart as part of this initiative. His top 10 health + taste vignettes will be visible on www.billionheartsbeating.com.
Along with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, various other celebrities are coming forward pro-bono to make this endeavour a national movement. They include celebrities like Anoushka Shankar (sitarist), actor Ayesha Takia, youth icon Rannvijay Singh, health guru Mickey Mehta, and many others. The activities include subsidized check ups across Apollo Hospitals, cholesterol free cooking workshops on ground, the world’s largest Ash-tray to go around Delhi University to invite youngsters to stub their cigarettes, and a host of top musicians to come together to sing a CALM SONG, a bid to leave stress behind at the end of each days. This will be launched against a red-lit Charminar at a high impact Press Conference, attended by celebrities, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, and various other luminaries like the Chief Minister himself. Each day of the week is loaded by celebrity presence, representing causes and activities.
Enjoy some heart friendly recipes today!

Till i write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor