Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gajar ka halwa at Jodhpur

During my years at the university, I had been christened 'the vagabond' by my friends owing to my tendency to be constantly wandering - on campus and off campus. However, since money was tight and I was too lazy to be working part time, most of my wandering happened within the city and a lot of it in my head. To make up for what I couldn't experience in real life, I chose to live through the many books that inspired me get on the road. As a result I spent more time looking through the dusty bookshelves in the English literature department than on the mezzanine floor that held the books that I ought to have read! But, having said that, I have no regrets. My time with 
Mr Kerouac On the Road was indeed precious to me.

A walk to remember: Jaswant Thada in the distance
Over the years, I think I have more or less lived up to the nickname that was kindly bestowed upon me. Like all other tourists, each trip I have taken has taught me something new, of the place, its people, its food, its beauty, and a lot about myself. However, up until a while back, I had never taken a trip alone. Sure, I had been alone in transit, or spent some time by myself in another town or city, but never had I spent a night at a hotel room in an unknown city all by myself while on a holiday. It had been on my mind for a while but every time I considered planning a solo trip, I always ended up with a friend or two! And, the solo trip was forgotten... until last month when I took a trip to Jodhpur and its neighbour, Osiyan. I had just watched Wild on the big screen, and that familiar itch began to get so unbearable that I knew I had to get away. Of course, I had L in splits when I tried comparing my everything-booked two-day trip with a 1000-mile-long solo-trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. 

A canon atop Mehrangarh Fort
But in any case, to me it was a fantastic moment. I had stepped into the hallowed portals of solo trip-dom! So what if it was just the city next door, so what if it was only for the weekend, so what! I imagined a garlanded homecoming with a band of cheerleaders welcoming me back with much hoopla! Obviously, none of that happened. It was more like, 'hey, you are back. You leaving for office in a bit?' Well, I suppose, it wasn't a big deal really, but what it was, was every bit of fun I wanted it to be. I spent two days wandering the streets of Jodhpur, taking photographs, and eating pakoras on the way. Even though I am not a very big fan of Rajasthani food, I did make it a point to try a lavish thali at the Chokelao Mehal restaurant at the Mehrangarh Fort. The sky had darkened and in the midst of my wandering at the fort, there was a sudden downpour. Luckily, I was close to Chokelao and the brassware laid out on the long buffet table had never been more enticing. I walked in. Hot tawa rotis with lal maas and ker sangri; I must have polished off a quarter of those serving trays! I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the dishes; most likely they weren't. The lal maas for instance was anything but spicy. Rather, it was a mild Indian curry, probably to accommodate the palates of the many foreign tourists who frequent the restaurant. But on the whole, it was worth every penny spent. And the best part of the meal came at the end. When the red-turbaned waiter brought me a bowl of gajar ka halwa, I was in for a real treat. Rich, sweet, and aromatic, the flavours came alive in my mouth. That wonderful aroma of ghee (clarified butter) without it being a greasy mess. Even though I was really full I went back for a second helping of that delicious dessert. 

In general I like halwas, but they have never been a particular favourite. Chokelao changed all that. I have looked up tons of recipes online since then hoping to find that perfect one. After returning home, I tried my hand at the gajar ka halwa, but the carrots betrayed me. I have not got it right yet. Maybe I could sneak in another weekend trip, just for a bowl of dessert at Chokelao again!

The best gajar ka halwa ever!
Chokelao Restaurant at the fort


  1. cheers to many more solo trips! to be honest, i'm quite scared at the thought of travelling alone but once done i'm sure it is very liberating. (nidhi)

    1. Yes it is :) it's totally worth it, although travelling with family and friends has its own perks!

    2. Yes it is :) it's totally worth it, although travelling with family and friends has its own perks!


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