The lovely array of colours and the crisp moist greens on sale can easily make a vegetable enthusiast salivate.
Chef Pradeep Khosla
A lover of these winter vegetables, I have often visited the sabzi mandi for my purchases. But my most recent visit to the legendary Monda Market left me speechless and nostalgic. Besides the green bunches of methi, palak and sarson ka saag was a lovely bunch of black carrots sitting pretty, lined up next to the deep red Delhi carrots and fresh, crisp green peas.
The nostalgic sight of black carrots in Hyderabad instantly transported me to my childhood, when my mother made the lovely black carrot kanji. She would regularly make gaajar ka halwa using the red Delhi carrots, but it was an occasional treat when she also made excellent halwa using these black carrots. The taste on my tongue lingered on my mind.
Upon becoming a chef, I promised myself that I would introduce this dish as and when the crisp black carrots were in season.
While both red and black carrots are excellent for salads — topped with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of seasoning, the red carrot is a delight — the winter specials make for fantastic savoury dishes, such as gaajjar ka pakoda, gaajjar methi matter, gaajjar ka pulao or tahri and gaajjar ka achar.
But how can we miss finishing off a meal without one of the most popular carrot-based desserts, the gaajjar ka halwa and gajjar ka murabba? Here’s sharing two of my favourite recipes using black carrots:
Kali gajjar ki kanji
- 4 black (purple) carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise like fingers, 3” approximately.
- Black salt: 3 tbsp and add more according to taste later
- Red chilli powder: 2 tbs or more if you like it spicy
- Ground roasted cumin seeds: 2 tbs
- Ground rai (fine sour mustard seeds): 4 tbs
- Hing: A pinch. (Optional). I like it personally
- Put all these in a container and cover with a muslin cloth. (Traditionally a matka of clay is used to store the kanji )
- Add 6 to 8 glasses of water .
- Keep the container in the sun for 3 hours everyday for about 7 days till the drink is fermented and sour.
- Chill it in the fridge; it’s ready to serve.
- You should get a strong pungent aroma of the fermented kanji and the mustard seeds to tell you that the drink is ready.
- There are times when you want to increase the sourness of the kanji. Squeeze in additional lime juice at such times.
- Do enjoy the sour carrots in the kanji while you enjoy the drink.
Kali gajjar ka halwa
- 1 kg kali gajar
- 200 gms sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1tbsp ghee
- 2 tbsp mava
- 1tap cardamom powder
- 10 soaked almonds
- 10 cashew nuts
- 8-10 pistachio
- Pistachio and silver for garnishing.
- Peel and wash the carrots properly.
- Now grate them — I prefer the larger grate and love the long shreds of cooked carrot.
- Heat ghee in a pan add grated carrots, cook for till the carrots are soft and the moisture has evaporated.
- Now add sugar and milk (milk is optional).
- Turn the heat on high as the sugar has to melt and give a gloss while the milk has to evaporate.
- When all the mixture gets thickened add mava, chopped nuts and cardamom powder. Mix well and switch off the gas.
- Garnish with pistachios, serve hot.
- I said milk is optional because I personally feel that the milk dilutes the dark rich colour of the carrots. I use thickened milk or some milk maid to compensate for that and to retain the shiny colour
- Add sugar as per your taste.
- The cardamom powder can also be avoided to retain the natural flavour of the black carrots. I normally avoid it when cooking for myself.