Like my mother, I have this compulsive tendency to stuff people with food until they can’t even think about eating without feeling ill. Like the witch from Hanzel and Gretel, I’ll keep offering my guests food, and if they decline, I’ll narrow my eyes and look at them suspiciously, to see if they’re really no longer hungry, or if maybe they didn’t like my food. I’ve been assured it’s always the former, but one can never be too careful. (Unfortunately this habit is restricted to cooked foods, and doesn’t quite stretch out to other areas of hospitality, like offering drinks. Especially when I still lived in Glasgow this was a problem, as the British are invariably too polite to ask for a cup of tea or help themselves.)
Along with this feeding tendency comes the crippling fear that I haven’t made enough food. I usually do make enough food, if not too much, but when I look upon the pots on the stove, the portions seem to shrink before my very eyes, soup looks like it’s evaporating into thin air, and I swear some of the prawns have escaped.
When this fear creeps up on me I usually make an emergency dessert. I realise it’s probably not even necessary most of the time, but you can’t go wrong with a dessert. If the main’s too small, this will fill people up, and even if the main was just fine, there’s always room for a dessert. So when I had some people over for curry last week, I made some carrot halva. It was good!
For a good portion that will feed about 6 people, use:
- half a kilo of carrots
- 5 tbsp of ghee or otherwise of butter or oil
- 3 tbsp of almonds, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp raisins
- 3 tbsp of semolina
- 300 ml milk
- 3 tbsp sugar
- spices of your own choice, I use ground cardamom only but you could add ground cinnamon, aniseed or cloves
Peel your carrots and grate them. Fry them in your ghee (or butter or oil) on low heat for about 15, maybe 20 minutes until they’re all soft. Keep stirring or half will still be raw when you take your pan off the fire.
In the meantime, gently roast your chopped almonds in a dry frying pan.
Put the milk in a big pot, add the sugar and the raisins, then heat it all up. When it’s hot, add the semolina, almonds, carrots, mix it all up, and keep stirring for about 15 minutes until it becomes a thick mass of carrots and stuff. Just before taking your pot off the heat, add your spices and mix well.
Now put all of the halva in a shallow bowl or oven dish, and leave to cool for an hour or so. When it’s cool, turn the dish over on a plate or chopping board so as to get the halva out, then slice it up and serve it with some icing sugar, coconut cream, double cream or honey.