Thursday 2 August 2012

Lauki Halwa

The bag was unusually heavy for a just-four-periods-and-six-books-day. I was in Std XII and a light bag was a mark of freedom and adulthood. Parking my bicycle in the stand, I headed towards the classroom, wondering what this peculiar weight meant. Rummaging through the bag for the offender, my hand touched something cold, something metallic. In full view of my friends I pulled out a pair of pliers from the school-bag! Welcome to the world of mischief-makers. They also go by the name of brothers in most parts of the globe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The term cheap-thrills, said in one breath, was coined keeping this set of species in mind. As the fairer gender, you do love draping your dupatta, I am sure. You don't bargain to be tied to the leg of the chair by that elegant piece of garment, do you?! You will. If you have a brother. And especially one like mine. Ki baandor (Bangla, what a monkey) was uttered most feelingly while describing him to a friend. Astonishingly, my friends found such harkat, cute! They taught me early in life that one man's misery is another man's mazaa.

The one unpardonable act that refuses to leave my mind is when I missed a movie because of this young one's tantrums. Dad had taken us to see Dangal, a movie on wrestling. The very experience of going to a theatre with him was a matter of delight. Through the film, the menace whispers to dad that he has to go to potty! Potty! Has this child got no sense is what my young mind thought. I remember reluctantly trailing behind dad, looking back at the screen, catching the last glimpses of whatever I could. On reaching home, the terror disappeared inside the house and stayed there for long. (Those were the days when we had verandahs outside where we sat with family & friends on a summer evening.) This aroused Ma's suspicion and she went looking inside only to find Bhaiyu smearing Lakme Cold Cream on Lakshmi Ji's photo! After this episode, the altar was shifted to the shelf above and Bhai got no thwacking cz Dad felt he was only a small child & it was mother's fault that she kept things within his reach! How unfair can life get! 
                                                                                                        On a day when sisters sing peans about their brothers, all this and more comes to the fore about my own. How I waited for him to grow up so he would't pull my long plaits, how I prayed that some sense be injected in him so that he ceases to irritate me, how a large part of my life was spent in being disgusted with his behaviour & another large one in missing him, are stuff that movies are made of. 
                                                                                                        On this special day, for the non-senti duo that we both claim to be, there is Lauki Halwa on the platter. Got up & made early morning thinking of the brother who is in another city and getting his rakhi tied by Tuli. Am I missing him? Uhh...naah!

Here's the recipe, friends. Ignore the mush, enjoy the dessert. And Happy Raksha Bandhan to you all!
                                                                                                                                           Ingredients:[serves 4]
1. 1 small lauki/doodhi/bottle gourd - peeled, deseeded & shredded
2. 1 cup sugar - or as preferred
3. 1 1/2 cup milk(preferably, full cream)
4. 1 tbsp dry fruit- chopped (leave raisins whole)
5. 2 tbsp ghee 
6. 1 tsp cardamom powder
1. In a pressure cooker, boil the grated lauki in milk for 2 whistles on high flame.
                                                                                                                                  Tip:Ensure that the milk just covers the lauki & is not excess. You don't want to waste time drying the milk & water!
                                                                                                                                                 2. Open the cooker, check that lauki is cooked , add sugar and mix well. Keep the flame on high.
                                                                                                                                          Insight: Halwa gets its gloss when sugar is being mixed. 

3. As the milk reduces, heat ghee in a separate pan and let the dry fruit fry in them for a minute. 
When the raisins puff(pic below) & the cashew turns a light
brown, pour the contents in the cooker and keep mixing vigorously, on high flame. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some people like their halwa a little milky while others prefer it dry. Depending on your palate, take it off flame. Let halwa sit for atleast 10 mins before serving.
                                                                                                                                                  Add maawa & (a drop of) green food colour for additional jazz if you want. I went without those. And by the look you can tell, it is none the worse for it!
The transformation of a humble vegetable to a sought-after delicacy is almost magical. Like the metamorphosis of a brattish child into a suave young man. Happy Birthday, Bhai. Oh sorry, Happy Rakhi :)  

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