As 2008 passes into the history books we usher in 2009 hoping for happier tidings and a little less of history.
Nothing brings memories of holidays like a train journey. In most parts of the world travel is synonymous with train journey unlike here in the US where train journey is not that common. Train journeys in India are enjoyable affairs (yes sometimes dirty, annoying and loud) when in a group. The highlight of course is the packed food, packed in a layer of banana leaf over which is wrapped a newspaper. The smell that emanates when unwrapped has to be experienced. The noise and clutter of the various vendors selling kaapi (tea) and goodies in every station is another enjoyable and often anticipated feature of the train journey. The kids were highly thrilled when we went on a train journey to Kerala during our last visit. We could call it their first long distance train trip and still think fondly of that trip. I am sure everyone remembers their first real trip on a train. I do, mine was a trip to Vijawada when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Do you remember yours?
We have been planning on taking a train trip here in the US ever since. The problem with taking a train here is the duration of the trip. Compared to flying it is at least 6-10 times longer. We finally found the time to embark on the much anticipated train journey during the holidays. We were visiting our friends in Chicago and there was no strict schedule to adhere. It also did not hurt that the tickets on Amtrak were far cheaper than the plane tickets. Even the coach class which we chose to travel by was several measures more comfortable than the First class plane seat. With ample leg room, reclining seats, freedom to walk around, a dining car and a lounge car we did have a comfortable albeit a long journey. The kids had fun and we had a lot of family time like DD reasoned. The train travels through some of the less travelled areas. The train travelled along river valleys and mountains with a picture perfect spectacular view of the river all through the B&O route. The numerous small waterfalls along the way were just an added bonus.
If you have room on your New Year resolution sheet be sure to include a long distance train trip as one of them. You won't be disappointed.
It is traditional to start anything with a sweet. I wanted to make one that was gluten free and not too sweet. Carrot Halwa fit the bill perfectly.
Serves : 4
1. Approx. 3 1/2 Cups of grated carrot
2. 2 Cups Milk
3. 3/4 cups of sugar
4. 2 pods cardamom powdered
5. a handful of raisins and cashews
6. 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp ghee
1. In a heavy bottomed pan take the milk and carrot and let it cook on a medium low flame till the carrot is cooked and most of milk has evaporated. (20-25 minutes)
2. Add the sugar and continue to cook till all the liquid is gone (10 minutes)
3. Now add the cardamom powder and ghee and let it cook till the ghee separates out.
4. Keep stirring thorough out the cooking process so not to stick to the bottom.
5. In a separate pan roast the cashews and raisins in a bit of ghee.
Serve with the nuts garnished on top.