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Sweet Delights from the Desert Land

Rajasthan, a place rich with stories of the brave kings and beautiful queens, of ghoomars and borlas, of satis and johars, of deserts and mirages. Mesmerizing folk tales that take you back in time. With roots buried somewhere deep down, my tryst with the scorching lands of this magnificent state began when I was 4. While I have never stayed in the state, something in my Karma keeps bringing me back and tied to Rajasthan. Now I am married to a Rajasthani and thus have a lifelong relationship with this place.

This is the first part of my Rajasthan Dairies series where I will share stories and memories that I have collected over the years. Stories about the rich food, culture, traditions, history and some folk tales. I begin my story with my love for Rajasthan’s mouth watering sweets. While the state is synonymous for some popular ones, different cities have their own specialties. Every time my mother-in-law comes visiting she knows what we would love to see coming out of her bags. So much so that friends and colleagues have started keeping track of her visits. God help me if I happen to go to Jaipur and return empty handed (read without a box-full of sweets)!!! So, here’s a list of some of my favourites –

1. Ghewar – These are mesh-like disc shaped sweets made with all purpose flour and drenched with sugar syrup…slurrrp! My earliest memories of this sugar soaked delicacy is associated with the big round box it comes in, something like those hat boxes you see in Hollywood movies! A friend of my dad’s knew my weakness for these and would bring it with him every time he visited us from Jaipur.  Associated with the festival of Teej, which is celebrated in the month of August, these mouth watering sweets can be savoured as it is or with sweet rabdi or malai.

 

2. Churma – Popularly paired with the traditional Rajasthani dish of Dal-Bati, Churma is coarsely ground wheat crushed & cooked with ghee and sugar. It is flavoured by adding roasted and crushed dry fruits, kesar (saffron), rose petals etc.

 

3. Mawa Kachori – This sinful sweet is a meal in itself. It is a deep fried kachori (or wheat flour disks) stuffed with sweet mawa (milk cheese) mixed with dry fruits, nuts and soaked in sugar syrup. Loaded with calories, this sugary delight is a specialty of Jodhpur.  the uniqueness of this sweet lies in its multiple textures. Bite into the crispy outer layer and savour the juicy soft filling mixed with nuts.

 

4. Gunjhiyaan – Specially prepared around the festival Holi, a gunjhiyaan is similar to a mawa kachori. What distinguishes this sweet is its momo-like shape. After deep frying and dipping in sugar syrup it is rolled in grated coconut to give it a distinct flavour.

 

5. Mohanthal / Dilkhushar – Mohanthal, or Dilkhushar as it is sometimes called, is a sweet barfi made from gram flour. It is prepared in large quantities on special occasions like weddings and is an all times favourite among all. Its one of those sweets that you cannot eat just one. The name Dilkhushar means ‘something that makes your heart happy’. 🙂

 

6. Malpua – These are fried pancakes, again dipped in sugar syrup and garnished with finely chopped nuts. Malpuas are also prepared during weddings, especially winter weddings, and are served hot. One can have them as is or with rabri to give it different texture and offset the extremely sweet taste of sugar syrup.

 

7. Monng dal halwa – Last on my list of favourites is Moong dal halwa which is prepared from split yellow moong dal. Making this delicacy is a tedious process involving overnight soaking of the moong dal and grinding it into a paste. Then it is slow cooked with mawa and oodles of ghee and sugar until golden brown. My mom made them e very year on Diwali and now no Diwali is complete for me without a generous dose of this mouth watering sweet.

 

While these are some of the more popular ones, Rajasthani cuisine has many more sweet treasures to delight your sweet tooth. Every household has its own traditional sweets and no meal is complete without a sweet. An interesting tid-bit about Rajasthani sweets is that these are not called ‘desserts’ which is supposed to be had at the end of a meal. They are  had before, during and after the meal. So next time you are planning a trip to this majestic land indulge in its sweet delights and don’t worry about gaining some extra kilos.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in travel, world

 

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Are we moving forward or backward?

God created all creatures equal. He did not send any instructions tucked away in the collar of Adam and Eve on how each should be treated in this world. He did not send any documents signed with His almighty seal prescribing the way one should regard the other. Then where do I ask did these holy scripture come from? These extremely biased scriptures which define the roles and rules governing men and women!

Every other day we hear of some or the other holy governing body slapping some fine or punishment for women doing something or the other. One country says you wear a burqa or you are killed, another country says wearing burqa not allowed. One says elementary education is compulsory and a right for all children, irrespective of caste and religion while another says girls should stay indoors and not meet any boys whatsoever.

The recent fatwa against women working in public/private companies where they come in direct contact with men is just outrageous! In a day and age where women all over the world are learning and gearing up to be more and more independent this comes as a solid blow. While the educated crust of the Muslim society may go unscathed, this new madness is going to cause some serious and long lasting scars on the growth of Muslim women.

One fine day, some old men sitting idle with nothing to do but meddle in the ways of the world decide that women are in serious danger of offending god if they as much as talk to men!!! What age is this??? Why suddenly? Where were they all this while and how come no one saw this directive until today? And why is there never a fatwa governing men or telling them not to beat their wives, or have innumerable children or take more than one wife? I want to ask is there no way we can stop these mad men from ruling and ruining the lives of millions of women all over the world? Is there no way that the entire population of this world can tell these handful of madmen to shut up and mind their own business?

I guess that’s not the way it works. We live in a world where words like ‘equality’ and ‘freedom’ are used at people’s convenience. When people in power have an agenda to push they start talking about equality – of casts, colour, gender – and freedom of men and women. Once their interests are met no one has the time to look who they have wounded and how!

 

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