Sunday, January 24, 2021

Engagement Halwa

ENGAGEMENT HALWA

Mouthwatering Memories of the unique Sweet Delicacy from Kalyan
By
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Foodie Archives:

Prior to the advent of the white revolution”  non-milk sweets like Mysore-Pak, Balushahi, Sutarfeni, Mahim-Halwa etc were quite popular. 

More than 10 years ago – in the monsoon of 2010 – we college classmates had a get-together in Lonavala. 

Many of us (especially those who had migrated abroad) were meeting after more than 33 years.

It was at this occasion where I first tasted a rather unique Halwa called Engagement Halwa specially brought for us by a classmate from Kalyan 

(Engagement Halwa is also called Kalyan Halwa or Mangani Halwa)

Let me tell you about it

FOODIE MEMORIES  ENGAGEMENT HALWA

When I was a small boy, in the 1960s, Pune was a beautiful verdant town, laid back, with a lot of soothing greenery, a nice place to live in a salubrious pensioner’s paradise. 

Yes, Pune was more of a pensioner’s paradise, a place for good education and a beautiful tranquil place to live in.

One travelled by the railways, and in those days there were no direct trains from Pune to the “upcountry”. 

So one caught the Deccan Express from Pune in the afternoon and got down at Kalyan Junction in the evening. 

At Kalyan you had dinner in the Railway Dining Room and waited for one of the famous Mail trains, like the Calcutta Mails via Nagpur or Allahabad or the Punjab Mail, or the late night express trains, which would come from Mumbai and take you to your destination in the upcountry.

That’s all I knew about Kalyan – its famous Railway Station with well maintained and comfortable waiting rooms and the decent dining room which used to serve sumptuous meals.

For years we passed through Kalyan, yet we never explored what lay beyond the railway station. 

Did the city have a heritage, a culture, a cuisine…?

So I was most pleasantly surprised when at a recent Alumni meet in Lonavla, Sateesh Pol told us that he lives in Kalyan and we were most happy when he introduced us to the unique speciality of his town – Kalyan Halwa.

Now I am sure you know what Halwa is…!

Maybe  as you read this, you are relishing a plate of your favourite Sooji (also called Shira made from Semolina or Rava and Ghee) Halwa – or Doodhi (Pumpkin) Halwa – or maybe Gajar (Carrot) ka Halwa.

Halwa is a dessert made from various kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains and lentils. 

The ingredients in Halwa are grated finely and fried in ghee and sugar. 

Nuts and milk may also be added. 

Halwa has the consistency of a very thick pudding. 

Halwa is the name given to a huge range of sweets made in the Middle East, Central Asia and India. 

The word itself comes from the Arabic word for sweet: Hulw

In the seventh century 
 hulw was a paste of Dates that was kneaded with milk  which eventually evolved into other forms  including stiffer confections made with wheat or semolina flour and sweetened with fruit paste, syrup or honey and flavoured with nuts, spices or even rose water before deep-frying.

Soon local improvisations were introduced in recipes for halwa and each place had its own unique halwa. 

Middle Eastern Halwa can be made with nuts, dried fruits, yoghurt, honey and spices. 

In Turkey and Greece  Halwa is made without grain and is made with cooked egg, syrup, nuts and sometimes fruit.

In India there are many varieties and assortments of a range of halwas. 

The word “Halwai” (Sweetseller) is probably derived from the word Halwa – and this indicates the popularity of halwa.

I am sure you have tasted the ubiquitous Sooji Halwa and Satyanarayan Halwa (Shira with bananas)  Doodhi Halwa  Gajar Halwa  and also famous local specialities like the delicate melt-in-the-mouth slabs of Mahim Halwa or Ice Halwa  the deliciously satiating Badami Halwa  the tasty and nourishing Kozhikode (Kerala) Halwa  different versions of delicious fruit and vegetable halwa  and the various types of rich wholesome halwa made from cashewnuts, almonds and dryfuits and full of nourishing pure ghee.

But let me tell you  the Kalyan Halwa that Sateesh Pol had got for us was truly superb – well I can say that it is one of the best halwas I have ever tasted. 

The slab of Kalyan Halwa  which Sateesh had got from Anant Halwai in Kalyan  was nicely packed in airtight foil on which the words Engagement Halwa were written.

Sateesh explained that this halwa is so popular that it is distributed during engagement ceremonies and so Kalyan Halwa is also called Mangani Halwa or Engagement Halwa (Mangani” means engagement in Hindi)

Let me tell you that Engagement Halwa is really superb. 

It is truly delicious  sumptuously rich, embellished with copious quantity of dry fruits  and prepared in pure ghee. 

The aromatic Engagement Halwa tastes luxuriant and imparts a wonderful flavour and leaves a very lingering aftertaste which is exceptionally pleasing  a scent of lovely fragrance on your palate and a satiating feeling of delightful gratification.

Well  Sateesh Pol had brought Anant Halwai’s famous Shrikhand too  which was also top class – creamy and lip smacking  but then  I have had equally good Shrikhand in Pune and other places too.

It was the inimitable Engagement Halwa from Kalyan  a true signature delicacy  which was truly distinctive and matchless – a feast worthy of Kings…!!!

So  Dear Reader  the next time you are in Kalyan  or a friend from Kalyan visits you  make sure you try out Kalyan’s unique Engagement Halwa

Do remember to tell us how you liked it.

And – Dear Reader – do tell us about your favourite Halwa too – and the food speciality of your hometown.

Happy Eating. 

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
     
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 

Foodie Memories – Engagement Halwa

ENGAGEMENT HALWA

Mouthwatering Memories of the unique Sweet Delicacy from Kalyan
Foodie Memories By VIKRAM KARVE

From my Foodie Archives:

Prior to the advent of the white revolution”  non-milk sweets like Mysore-Pak, Balushahi, Sutarfeni, Mahim-Halwa etc were quite popular. 

More than 10 years ago – in the monsoon of 2010 – we college classmates had a get-together in Lonavala. 

Many of us (especially those who had migrated abroad) were meeting after more than 33 years.

It was at this occasion where I first tasted a rather unique Halwa called Engagement Halwa specially brought for us by a classmate from Kalyan 

(Engagement Halwa is also called Kalyan Halwa or Mangani Halwa)

Let me tell you about it

FOODIE MEMORIES  ENGAGEMENT HALWA

When I was a small boy, in the 1960s, Pune was a beautiful verdant town, laid back, with a lot of soothing greenery, a nice place to live in a salubrious pensioner’s paradise. 

Yes, Pune was more of a pensioner’s paradise, a place for good education and a beautiful tranquil place to live in.

One travelled by the railways, and in those days there were no direct trains from Pune to the “upcountry”. 

So one caught the Deccan Express from Pune in the afternoon and got down at Kalyan Junction in the evening. 

At Kalyan you had dinner in the Railway Dining Room and waited for one of the famous Mail trains, like the Calcutta Mails via Nagpur or Allahabad or the Punjab Mail, or the late night express trains, which would come from Mumbai and take you to your destination in the upcountry.

That’s all I knew about Kalyan – its famous Railway Station with well maintained and comfortable waiting rooms and the decent dining room which used to serve sumptuous meals.

For years we passed through Kalyan, yet we never explored what lay beyond the railway station. 

Did the city have a heritage, a culture, a cuisine…?

So I was most pleasantly surprised when at a recent Alumni meet in Lonavla, Sateesh Pol told us that he lives in Kalyan and we were most happy when he introduced us to the unique speciality of his town – Kalyan Halwa.

Now I am sure you know what Halwa is…!

Maybe  as you read this, you are relishing a plate of your favourite Sooji (also called Shira made from Semolina or Rava and Ghee) Halwa – or Doodhi (Pumpkin) Halwa – or maybe Gajar (Carrot) ka Halwa.

Halwa is a dessert made from various kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains and lentils. 

The ingredients in Halwa are grated finely and fried in ghee and sugar. 

Nuts and milk may also be added. 

Halwa has the consistency of a very thick pudding. 

Halwa is the name given to a huge range of sweets made in the Middle East, Central Asia and India. 

The word itself comes from the Arabic word for sweet: Hulw

In the seventh century 
 hulw was a paste of Dates that was kneaded with milk  which eventually evolved into other forms  including stiffer confections made with wheat or semolina flour and sweetened with fruit paste, syrup or honey and flavoured with nuts, spices or even rose water before deep-frying.

Soon local improvisations were introduced in recipes for halwa and each place had its own unique halwa. 

Middle Eastern Halwa can be made with nuts, dried fruits, yoghurt, honey and spices. 

In Turkey and Greece  Halwa is made without grain and is made with cooked egg, syrup, nuts and sometimes fruit.

In India there are many varieties and assortments of a range of halwas. 

The word “Halwai” (Sweetseller) is probably derived from the word Halwa – and this indicates the popularity of halwa.

I am sure you have tasted the ubiquitous Sooji Halwa and Satyanarayan Halwa (Shira with bananas)  Doodhi Halwa  Gajar Halwa  and also famous local specialities like the delicate melt-in-the-mouth slabs of Mahim Halwa or Ice Halwa  the deliciously satiating Badami Halwa  the tasty and nourishing Kozhikode (Kerala) Halwa  different versions of delicious fruit and vegetable halwa  and the various types of rich wholesome halwa made from cashewnuts, almonds and dryfuits and full of nourishing pure ghee.

But let me tell you  the Kalyan Halwa that Sateesh Pol had got for us was truly superb – well I can say that it is one of the best halwas I have ever tasted. 

The slab of Kalyan Halwa  which Sateesh had got from Anant Halwai in Kalyan  was nicely packed in airtight foil on which the words Engagement Halwa were written.

Sateesh explained that this halwa is so popular that it is distributed during engagement ceremonies and so Kalyan Halwa is also called Mangani Halwa or Engagement Halwa (Mangani” means engagement in Hindi)

Let me tell you that Engagement Halwa is really superb. 

It is truly delicious  sumptuously rich, embellished with copious quantity of dry fruits  and prepared in pure ghee. 

The aromatic Engagement Halwa tastes luxuriant and imparts a wonderful flavour and leaves a very lingering aftertaste which is exceptionally pleasing  a scent of lovely fragrance on your palate and a satiating feeling of delightful gratification.

Well  Sateesh Pol had brought Anant Halwai’s famous Shrikhand too  which was also top class – creamy and lip smacking  but then  I have had equally good Shrikhand in Pune and other places too.

It was the inimitable Engagement Halwa from Kalyan  a true signature delicacy  which was truly distinctive and matchless – a feast worthy of Kings…!!!

So  Dear Reader  the next time you are in Kalyan  or a friend from Kalyan visits you  make sure you try out Kalyan’s unique Engagement Halwa

Do remember to tell us how you liked it.

And – Dear Reader – do tell us about your favourite Halwa too – and the food specialty of your hometown.

Happy Eating. 

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
     
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 

Status Games

DO YOU PLAY “STATUS GAMES”...?

Art of Frivolous Conversation By VIKRAM KARVE
________

“SMALL TALK” and SOCIAL CONVERSATION

When I was in the Navy – I had to attend many official parties and social functions.

On most occasions – I knew many persons – and we enjoyed talking freely about topics of common interest.

However – there were some occasions – especially when I was “detailed” as a “rep” to attend formal inter-service parties or social functions in the civilian world where I hardly knew anybody.

What do you do when you land up in a place where you are a stranger – and nobody is keen to talk to you?

1. You can get bored all by yourself – and – you can wait for the “torture” to end.

2. You can try to strike up a polite conversation about some mundane topic like the weather with someone who is not interested in talking to you.

3. You can have fun talking to people and enjoy yourself (and maybe the person you are conversing with will enjoy the tête-à-tête too).

Before I tell you how – let’s get back to the basics.
__________

WHY DO WE TALK TO EACH OTHER...?

Why do people talk to each other...?

Why do we converse with other people...?

Conversation is a medium of verbal communication.

The “professed aim” of conversation is to exchange information.

However  conversation may have ulterior motives too – besides exchanging information.

Sometimes you may speak to  “get it off your chest” – or to express emotions like happiness or anger or frustration.

Another reason for you to converse with someone is  to establish the “pecking order” – or to put it precisely – you want to establish your place in the pecking order (determining your status).

Or  maybe you talk to someone because  you want to alter your status – to raise or to lower your “status” relative to the other person (altering your status).
_________

THREE REASONS FOR VERBAL COMMUNICATION

Thus – to put it in a nutshell – there are 3 reasons for verbal communication:

1. Exchanging Information

2. Expressing Emotions

3. Determining and Altering Status 


Let us discuss the third point – Determining and Altering Status
________


DETERMINING AND ALTERING STATUS BY CONVERSATION

Since we are talking about “STATUS GAMES”   let us discuss the third reason for conversation – Determining and Altering Status.

Consciously – or sub-consciously – people are competing with each other for status when they speak to each other.

Different individuals have different attitudes towards status.

Some are blatant about flaunting their status  while others do so in a more subtle manner.

Some like to establish their superior status – while others prefer to tone down their own status relative to the other person.

_______

DETERMINING STATUS

Let me give you some examples of Determining Status:

If a stranger asks you where you live – he may not be doing so only for information purposes.

He may be doing it for ascertaining or establishing relative status.

See this example of determining status by seemingly innocuous queries.

Here is a simple conversation – at an alumni meet – a man asked me:

“Where do you live...?”

“I live in Wakad” (middle-class suburb of Pune)

“Oh – I live in Deccan Gymkhana.” (High-brow posh locality of Pune)

(In Mumbai – I lived in near Churchgate – which “enhanced” my “status”)

A snooty wife of a Navy colleague once asked me at a party in the presence of others:

“In which school do your children study...?” she asked me.

“Kendriya Vidyalaya...” I answered.

“Oh. My children study in XXX School...” she said with an upturned nose – XXX School was the name of a most elite school which was known more for its snob appeal than its academic achievements.

In the first example – where the person asked me where I lived  the person did not know where I lived – and  he was trying to “gauge my status” in comparison with his own.

In the second example – the snobbish lady knew where my children studied  and  she was trying to show-off her “higher” status as compared me – and she was purposely doing this is front of other Naval Officers and families.

In the civilian world - status is determined by material things like  your wealth  the car you own  the locality where you stay  the school your children attend  or who you know

A friend bought an expensive sports car which he drives only to his club to show off his status.

Where you work also determines your status.

Working for a prestigious organization adds to your status.

Your intellectual accomplishments – the educational institution where you studied – an “Ivy League” College, IIT. IIM etc – this aspect also contributes to your status.

In the Military World (Defence Services) – things like your material wealth and intellectual accomplishments do not matter.

In the Armed Forces (Army, Navy Air Force)  your status is determined by your Rank.

Yes – Rank is the only factor which determines your place in the pecking order in the military.

That is why your military rank is prefixed to your name – even after you retire.

The Armed Forces are highly status-conscious organizations.

Rank (or the rank of your spouse) governs social graces in the Defence Services (and Civil Services too). 

That is why most Senior Officers (and their wives) will immediately state their Rank – so that they can assume a higher status.

However – on occasions – I have observed some senior officers not mentioning their ranks while talking “incognito”.

Yes – some senior officers make efforts to deliberately lower their status – so that the persons who they are talking to warm up to them and open up – and – to ensure that they do not get intimidated by the high rank of the officer.

_________

STATUS GAMES

Once – at a Ladies Club function – an Army Officer’s wife was desperately trying to find out from my newly-married wife whether I was senior to her husband – or whether her husband was senior to me – so that she could appropriately establish herself in the pecking order.

My wife was quite clueless about my precise seniority.

During the conversation my wife mentioned the name of our neighbour – a senior Army Officer – who she said was my close friend.

The Army Officer’s wife assumed that I was senior to her husband – and she showed due deference to my wife.

Later it transpired that her husband was much senior to me  and  the Army Wife was quite miffed at having been fooled by an unintentional status game.

You can have fun when talking to a stranger by intentionally initiating and playing status games.

I once met a social-bee in Mumbai. 

She asked me what I did for a living.

“I am in the Navy...” I told her.

She immediately started dropping names – and mentioned the name of a very Senior Naval Officer  who she claimed was her close acquaintance.

“Name-Dropping” is a sure indicator of “Status Games”

The lady was obviously trying to raise her status relative to me. 

So  I decided to play a game – and  alter status.

I casually said that the Naval Officer who she had named was my subordinate.

First – she looked at me in disbelief – then  she looked at me with a hint of awe.

I decided to go in for the kill – I asked her in detail about herself – interrogated her about her background – and I brought her down to earth.

In the Armed Forces there are two types of Officers – ex-NDA officers who are trained at the National Defence Academy  and  Direct Entry Officers who are trained at the other Military Academies.

Ex-NDA Officers are extremely “seniority conscious” – whereas Direct Entry Officers are more egalitarian.

You can recognize an ex-NDA Officer easily – the first time he meets you  he will try to determine your “seniority” by playing status games

An ex-NDA Officer will be desperate to find out whether you are senior to him  or  whether you are junior to him – and he will ask you all sorts of questions to ascertain this – “which course are you from...?” – “what is your NDA equivalent course...?” – “who are your ex-NDA batchmates...?” etc.

You can enjoy playing “status games” with these rank conscious ex-NDA types by masquerading as being more senior than you actually are. 

I did this once and enjoyed being called “Sir” by an ex-NDA Officer who was actually a bit senior to me. 

Recently  I realized that even the civil services play “status games”.

A few years ago – after I had retired from the Navy  I met an old school classmate after almost 40 years.

I could not even recall him properly – since  he had been quite an undistinguished student – and a mediocre backbencher.

However – he had joined government service and plodded along – and  thanks to Assured Career Progression (ACP) – he had reached a reasonably high position.

He mentioned his position – he said that it was the civilian equivalent of Major General – and then  he asked me: 

“At what rank did you retire from the Navy...?”

I was amused – since  I was sure that he knew all about me.

After all  he had got my details from another classmate  who had been in the Navy with me.

This guy was simply trying to show off his status.

“How does my Navy Rank matter to you...?” I said, “I retired long back.”

“I want to know. Tell me...” he insisted.

“Admiral – I retired as an Admiral...” I said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Oh. XXX said that you retired as a Commander...” he said, “You worked at a university as a Professor also – didn’t you...?”

“Yes  I was faculty at YYY University...” I said.

He immediately started “name-dropping” – saying that the present vice-chancellor of that university was a close acquaintance of his (in an attempt to raise his own status).

He was playing “status games” with me.

Of course – I put him in his place by discussing his academic “achievements” and his “sissy” effeminate behaviour during our student days – for which he had been ragged severely.

Going up and down a person’s timeline is a good way of altering status.

Later – in my blog – I will tell you many such anecdotes of the delightful fun I have had playing “status games” while talking to people.

Meanwhile – Dear Reader: 

Whenever someone starts asking you too many questions – you must try to discern whether:

1. Is the person genuinely seeking information...? 
 
2. Is he/she expressing emotions...? 

3. Or – is the individual playing “status games” with you...?

Then – you know what to do.

Of course – the next time you land up at a boring party or function – just walk up to someone you do not know – and have fun by initiating conversation and then playing “status games”.

Playing “Status Games” is a good way of “Frivolous Conversation”.
_________

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. This blog post is a fictional spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)