A lot of North Indians can trace their lineage all the way to Pakistan and so can I. My Grandfather moved from Multan, in Pakistan to India after partition. He was a giant of a man, very handsome, tall, and proud with a mop of curly silver white hair on his head which was made him stand out from everyone else.
He loved his food and would talk about the food from home as a part of his life that he missed sorely. Often he would start a sentence with “Humare Multan main” (In our Multan) which would often end up with an instruction to my mom to make something that was deep fried or sweet. He remembered each alleyway, each nook and corner and every sweetmeat shop that dotted around those alleys where the most delectable food was sold.
Even though he was out of Multan, Multan was never out of him. He constantly reminisced about the delicious food laden with Ghee, Cream, and Sugar and always craved for more. Jalebis drowned in thick full cream milk, Gulab Jamuns eaten with Rabri and piping hot Kachoris were something that he used to relish with childlike glee. However what we loved the most was “Gajar Ka Halwa” (Carrot Pudding) which his mother would cook for him in the cold winters of Multan.
He would earnestly try and recreate the magic of Multan in our tiny little kitchen in Ulhasnagar. Halwa making would be an elaborate ritual in our house which he played with a lot of panache. A kerosene stove and a huge Kadhai (wok) would be laid out for him in the Verandah of our house. He would sit on a chair near the stove wearing a shawl, croon with “K L Saigal” on the tape recorder and cook the halwa overnight. Since we did not have a food processor it was my brother and my responsibility to grate the pink carrots, and he would do it earnestly till our hands would be sore, and our backs would hurt. However, the temptation of what we would get in the end would keep us going.
He never took shortcuts and the Halwa would simmer for hours in the Mawa (dried milk used to prepare Indian sweets) and Ghee (clarified Butter). We would wake up with the smell of the Halwa wafting throughout the house penetrating not just our eager nose but also our senses. He would then throw in a generous quantity of dried fruits and nuts to complete the ritual. And then as a reward he would take a spoon and feed the halwa to us. His beady cataract ridden eyes would light up when he would hear us scream in delight.
Head over to India Food Network to read more and to get the recipe.