Gajar ka murabba is an age old recipe that was popular in many parts of north India. Peeled whole carrots were cooked with a jaggery syrup till it gets nicely candied and then was served warm with fresh cream or malai.
So gur ki kadhai wala gajar ka murabba used to be a special candy that people would enjoy outdoors. Raw papaya was also candied in the same manner and I have heard these stories from friends belonging to Punjab, west UP and even north Bihar. No wonder everyone wanted to recreate that jaggery candied version of gajar ka murabba in their urban kitchens and the malai topping would be a natural thing in the plated version.
The caortenes of carrots and malai make a great food combination that facilitates nutrient absorption better. So here comes a dessert which is absolutely healthy and is absolutely a traditional dessert I must add.
Murabba generally is a sweet preserve of a fruit and is Indian version of soft candied fruit, the murabba can be made to look like a dry candy when it is made with higher amount of sugar, or it may be made like a chunky jam.
Basically any fruit can be preserved like a murabba (some of them having huge health benefits like amla and bel ka murabba). Some murabbas like this aam ka chhunda is used like a sweet chutney or a spread...
Carrots is a less preferred choice to be made into a murabba that stays for the whole year, but it is considered very healthy (tonic food) in winters It is best to be made in season I think and I always prefer making it in jaggery to get maximum flavors and to make it differently flavored than gajar ka halwa, as we mostly have it with a topping of malai. It can be served without cream too.
Carrot murabba is also considered very healthy and healing food when taken with milk for breakfast, some cereal can be conveniently added to it for good reasons. Here I have made it like a dessert, which is very different from gajar ka halwa.
Traditionally, whole carrots are peeled, forked and cooked in jaggery or sugar syrup till the syrup becomes frothy with bubbles and the carrots look shiny and glazed nicely (600-700gm sugar / jaggery per kilo of carrots). After cooling, the carrot murabba is kept in airtight jars. The murabba can be spiced with cardamom, nutmeg or cinnamon etc according to your choice....
In my instant version, carrot slices are microwaved with crumbled jaggery to make a murabba and then it is served with a topping of homemade malai. I still prefer home made malai because it is fresh and you get more flavor for traditional preparations. Of course you can use fresh cream from a tetra pack if you don't get home made malai but I strongly recommend malai for this.
Microwave carrot murabba recipe
(for two servings)
2 large carrots sliced obliquely to get large slices (about 500 gm)
1/4 cup of crumbled jaggery (more or less according to choice)
fresh cream or malai to serve 2 tbsp
chopped nuts a handful
candied ginger (optional) one slice
Place the carrot slices in a large ceramic bowl, cover with the crushed jaggery and microwave for 2 minutes, it gets syrupy as the water from carrot slices is drawn out , stir and microwave again for 1-2 minutes. The jaggery syrup should froth into bubbles when you see it cooking. At this stage the carrot slices become almost candied and leathery, giving a nice bite ...
If you want them softer, you can cook just for 2 minutes and serve after cooling. But if cooked for longer and till the syrup is frothy and the carrots are leathery, it can be preserved and is more flavorful, as is seen in the right side picture.......
Cool and serve with a topping of malai and chopped nuts. I had some wonderful candied ginger so that was also chopped and topped onto it :)
The carrots slices get a good bite after being cooked in a thick syrup, as no water is added and the syrup is formed from the water released by carrots.
Pan cooked carrot murabba
Chop the carrots in 3-4 pieces as per choice and cook with jaggery and some water in low flame. The carrots release their own water and get cooked slowly into shiny candied chunks of deliciousness. The quantities will remain the same as the microwave recipe but you need to add a little water in this case, this quantity takes about 15 minutes on very low flame.
The jaggery gives it a depth in flavor, the cream makes it so melt in the mouth when you are biting into the candied carrot slices, nuts give it additional texture and the candied ginger bits lend a burst of another deep flavor to it....
I got this wonderful candied ginger from a Uttarakhand stall at trade fair this season, it's so good I can't stop using it in my cooking. In the picture it is below the packet of black currants , those white roundels.
Apart from these candied ginger I bought a lot of sTuff from trade fair, from stalls of different states. I got black currants, banana chips, methi khakhra, walnuts, cashews with skin on (not in the picture) and that place mat made of palm wood which I have been using since then for my photos....
Delhi international trade fair is a great place to go to when you want to buy authentic stuff form the artisans themselves, apart from these food items I bought a lot of kantha work kurtas, some kalamkari and ikat fabric etc. etc.
India International Trade Fair is a great place to be if you are interested in the traditional arts and crafts of India and some other participating countries. I get my green tea, filter coffee, coconut milk powder from Tea, Coffee and Coconut Boards of India stalls respectively. Getting the real stuff is so easy there, and you can get all types of fruit preserves, achars, spices and murabba too.
But you wont get gajar ka murabba anywhere as much I know. You have to make it at home and you must I suggest. It is tastier than you think and a very convenient quick dessert for family.