Photo provided by Natasha Sahu
In the past few editions of “Natasha’s Kitchen,” I’ve only talked about myself. Every time I sit down to write these I have to wonder “who TF cares?” But I guess I care. And hopefully, my friends care too. The past few recipes became what they were thanks to some of my best friends. It’s because of these little helper elves that I get the validation I needed to confirm that I can actually cook food that people want to eat.
Kaylie always sampled my latest vegan experiment. Kendra helped me chop vegetables and complimented my food. Amanda ate anything I made, no matter how much I overspiced it. Kayla hyped me up and gave me lots of entertainment and company in the kitchen. It’s because of these people, and many others that have been with me, sampling my food even through all the failures (RIP chicken kebabs), that I’m able to constantly cook, as well as enjoy it.
I met Kendra in Miller Hall, first floor. We ended up in the same Calculus 2 class from hell. By the end of the first week, I forced her to come hang in my room (with my other collection of people from my hall that I forced to be my friend) as we played Quinn Bender’s paper printed version of Cards Against Humanity. We became friends and never took another calculus class again. My friendship with Kayla Padilla began like most classic Gen Z friendships: over Twitter. In almost a year, she has gone from someone whose guest column in the Trinitonian ended up on the same page as mine to one of my best friends. Not much has changed in a year, except now we’re getting paid to talk about things no one cares about. In a school this small, finding a fellow woman of color who understands you without an explanation is extremely rare, and Kayla has quickly become one of my closest friends at Trinity.
As I go through my senior year of college, I can’t help but be a little sentimental. In a little less than a year, most of my friends will move to different parts of the world, and the memories of sitting on the floor of my little Miller room will be just a small snapshot in the scrapbook of my mind. When I pore over old photos and other memories, I wonder how I will appear to people in the future. Will my grandchildren wonder what I did when I was young? Will they think about what I was passionate about or what I talked about, like I often wonder about my own grandma? Would they want to be friends with the person I am now? Most importantly, was the me that I am now cool enough for them?
It’s with these people, and many other important people in my life, that I’ve spent the last three years living in close proximity to and have had such a big influence on the person I currently am. I hope to spend this last year, bonding in my cramped, overheated kitchen, sharing food and laughs and maybe be able to form a snapshot of who I am for someone else.
It’s a big thing in Hindu culture to always eat something sweet as good luck before doing something big. I’ve lived in this apartment for almost two months and have started my last year of college, only to realize that I have yet to make a single dessert myself. After my last stir fry dish, I had an excess of carrots lying in the produce bin of my fridge, and after a quick FaceTime call with my mom, I knew exactly what to do with them.
The problem with many North Indian desserts is that they’re way too dairy-filled and decadent. As my personal vendetta against the milk industry grows, I’ve come to realize there are a lot of Indian desserts I can’t really enjoy because of how much ghee and milk is used to make them. In this recipe specifically, almond milk pairs best because of the common theme of nuts in lots of Indian desserts.
VEGAN GAJAR HALWA/INDIAN CARROT PUDDING
2 tbsp butter/ghee/vegan butter
8 medium-sized carrots
½ cup raisins
8 cardamom pods
½ cup roasted almonds (or any other nuts you prefer)
2 ½ cups almond milk
1 pinch clove powder
1 pinch ginger powder
1 pinch cinnamon powder
1 cup sugar
1. Pour the milk in a pot and let it come to a boil.
2. Peel your carrots and either grate or shred in a food processor (my preferred method).
3. Mix your spices in a small bowl and de-shell the cardamom pods to get the seeds. These can either be ground into a powder or used as-is.
4. Add your spices to the warming milk.
5. Once your milk has come to a boil, put in your grated carrots.
6. Stir occasionally and let boil until all the milk is evaporated.
7. On the side, melt 1 tbsp of butter and toss your raisins until they’re plump.
8. Once the milk has evaporated, stir in the sugar.
9. At this point, it should be a gooey consistency, once it has reduced, about two minutes after adding sugar, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining butter.
10. Top with chopped nuts of choice and raisins and serve.