I woke up this morning, a head bursting full of fresh ideas, inspiration and knowledge. I had just gotten back from a wonderful weekend spent with 100 people I’ve never met before, yet some I’ve felt like I’ve known since ages. We were all there for a purpose, some more focused than others. And the one common thread that strung us all together was our combined love for eating and sharing of food. It was the first ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference, and I know it can’t be the last. It has open many more doors of opportunity and learning, and there can only be ways to climb up from that.
I tuck away my laptop neatly into my backpack. Alongside, I place my notebook, a sticky pad, some markers, a pencil and a pen. And the cookbook I’m currently reviewing. Yes, can’t leave without it. Ends of tiny sticky notes proudly display themselves from pages in between. Evidence that the book has been prodded, probed, and not to mention, picked and marked for its must-try recipes. Just as I’m about to step out the door, I decide to take my camera along as well. I walk the short distance to the cozy cafe around the corner. The air is crisp and birds chirp in almost a sing-song. Finally, signs of Spring. I find myself humming along only to realize a while later, that my IPod in still in its casing in the bag’s front pocket. The song I hear and hum along to must be in my heart then.
I order myself a large cup of Mint Hot Chocolate (the best I’ve had in a long, long time), and a muffin. As I grab my cup, I spot a cozy chair at the corner by the window. Perfect, I say to myself. I set up my laptop, open my notebook to a fresh page and take out my favourite pen. I comfortably settle on the plush leather chair and browse away on my laptop. I make notes as I sip on my drink and nibble at my muffin. It’s been so long since I did it this way that I’d forgotten how much I loved it.
Minutes went by, and before I knew it, I was getting messages from my stomach. I had hardly noticed that it was almost time for lunch. I had spent the past few hours working, just doing what I considered play. An old man walked up to me and asked if I was a writer. I beamed. It’s been long since I was asked that question. I smiled and said yes, along with a few other things. I’m a writer in a more broader sense of the word, I told him. I explained to him that I write about food, simple food, exotic food, everyday food. Food that brings us comfort and pleasure, and also about food in general. I take pictures of everything I cook and most of what I eat, I photograph moments and capture memories. I create and design and make things pretty. Yes, I like having pretty things to look at.
Well then, you must be a food-artist, he said as he smiled and trailed away. Food Artist. Is that what I am? Is there even such a thing? I’d never thought of it that way. A smile lingered on my face as I packed up my things. It was time to head to my kitchen.
Gajar (Carrot) Halwa
Prep time: 15 min | Cooking time: 30-45min | Serves: 6
4 cups grated carrots*
1 cup khoya/mava, grated**
1/4 cup ghee
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cashews, roughly chopped
a pinch of cardamom seeds, powdered
Heat ghee in a non-stick pan and fry carrots till it gives out all of its moisture, and starts to turn into a darker red colour. Be careful to stir often, so as not to let it burn.
Add in sugar and cardamom seeds, and fry for a few minutes till sugar melts, caramelizes and all moisture dries up.
Add in khoya and fry till blended well, stirring often. If, for any reason, the khoya starts to melt and the halwa turns creamy, continue to stir-fry till it completely dries up and begins to release oil on the sides.
Toss in chopped cashews, and serve warm with a dollop of Vanilla ice cream.
*I prefer using the large red Indian carrots, easily available at any Indian grocery store, to get that luscious red colour and added sweetness as an end result.
**Khoya/Mava is a milk product available at Indian grocery stores, often used in Indian sweets. It’s usually prepared by boiling and reducing milk to a semi-solid stage.