Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dried Fruit & Nut Halwa

My love affair with dried fruits and nuts started when I tasted the dried fruit and nut milk-shake at a restaurant (which I vaguely remember was called Mac) on MG Road in Bangalore. This shake was fit enough to be a meal both in taste and satiation. I remember drooling over this shake and although I have had this shake several times after that at many different places (including chez moi) none measured up to the lofty standard set by the original one. Anyway, I digressed and this post, although is about dried fruits and nuts, is definitely not about shakes but about halwas – the ubiquitous dessert found in almost all cultures and cuisines. Of course, in India, we make halwa with everything ranging from moong dhal to wheat to carrot/potato to pumpkin – looks like we are capable of turning everything to a halwa. “When in doubt, turn it to a halwa” should be a national tagline!

The base template for all halwas is the same – basically, throw in the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed vessel, cook it over low-medium flame for about 30-45 minutes and slowly, in front of your eyes, what was a sticky-icky blob turn will turn into a still lumpy ball that importantly, moves easily when guided with the spoon leaving the sides of the vessel.

The template will have to be tweaked a little bit based on the kind of halwa at hand. For this one,

20 dried figs
20 dried dates
1 cup milk
handful of roasted and chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashew)
1-2 tsp of butter

Start with about 20 pieces of figs and dates soaked over-night in a cup of warm milk. Blend it into a find paste with the milk that was used for soaking.

Add this to a thick-bottomed vessel (I used the cast-iron pot from here) and cook it in a low to medium flame with a tsp of butter.

While the mixture is cooking, coat a clean plate with a tsp of butter and keep it aside.

After about 30-40 minutes of slow cooking, during which time it needs very little attention except for the occasional stir to make sure the mixture cooks evenly, add the chopped nuts and cook for a couple of more minutes making sure the nuts are mixed and incorporated well.

Turn the stove off and transfer the mixture to the butter-coated plate.

Let sit for a few minutes and then cut it in diamond-shaped pieces.

The dried fruit halwa was inspired by Soma’s version here, after I drooled many days over those pictures.


Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Desi


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Fall in fashion

While Winter conjures up images of pristine white snow, Summer of  bright sun and Spring of colorful wild flowers, Fall brings to life the colorful leaves – yellow, golden orange, red, pink and the various earthy shades.  Based on color alone, if I have to pick a season, it would most definitely be Fall as I am a sucker for earthy tones.  If I had a choice (and people around me agreed), I will live in a orange-rust world… Well, but we do not live in a perfect world, do we? 🙂

K and I have been planning to go to the East Coast and Blue Ridge Parkway every fall for the past few years and for a myriad reasons, it never happened.  Finally this year, everything fell in place and we made the trek.  We landed in Charlotte and after a quick visit to K’s alma mater, drove to the Smokies.  It was breath-takingly beautiful and sitting right outside this park is the city of Gatlinburg, which was everything the park was not, to put it mildly.

Gatlinburg is a shock to the system from whichever angle you survey it, but never more so than when you descend upon it from a spell of moist, grubby isolation in the woods. It sits just outside the main entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and specializes in providing all those things that the park does not– principally, slurpy food, motels, gift shops, and sidewalks on which to waddle and dawdle–nearly all of it strewn along a single, astoundingly ugly main street. For years it has prospered on the confident understanding that when Americans load up their cars and drive enormous distances to a setting of rare natural splendor what most of them want when they get there is to play a little miniature golf and eat dribbly food. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular national park in America, but Gatlinburg–this is so unbelievable–is more popular than the park.

So Gatlinburg is appalling…

Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods

After recovering from the shock that was Gatlinburg, we finished our hurried trip of the Smokies and started doing what we came here to – driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We experienced clear blue sky, dark clouds of an impending storm, fog & rain – all in a matter of 2 days.  While I was initially worried that weather may play spoil sport, we enjoyed the trip not in spite of, but due to the weather.  Words fall short of explaining the beauty of the place, so I am leaving you with a few pictures, as always taken by K.


Sunset from Clingman's dome

Sunset from Clingman's dome



Lone Tree on the Road

Lone Tree on the Road



Somewhere along the way

Somewhere along the way


The trip was supposed to end @ Shenandoah National Park with Laksh and family visiting us.  But to know what happened, you will have to go here.  And that was how I spent the last week.  How was your week?


Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Travel