Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Gajar Da Murabba (Carrot Preserves)



Carrots are one of the few vegetables that can be cooked in many ways: as a pickle, pulped as a juice, as a spicy dish with peas or methi (fenugreek) or sweet as a pudding or halwa and even as murabba or preserves. Although it is often served as halwa in most Indian restaurants, few people in the US know the taste of carrots as a pickle or as murabba.

Gajar da murabba can be served sweet (as in this recipe) or sweet and sour like a pickle or condiment to any dish. In North India, carrots can be found in many colors and shapes, mostly black, red, orange and white, each of which have their own taste and cooking methods. The gajar da murabba is usually made with red or orange ones.

Of course, as we all know, carrots are good for you. They contain almost no starch but have 7 per cent free sugars and get their bright orange color from beta-carotene which is partly metabolized into Vitamin A which is essential for good vision. Carrots are also thought to have anti-aging and cancer prevention properties. But due to their high sugar content, carrots – and certainly not this recipe – are not recommended for people with elevated sugar levels or diabetics!


• 2 lbs or 1 kilo lal gajar (red carrots)

• 1/2 gallon or 2 liters pani (water)

• 8 cups or 1 kilo chinni (sugar)

• 1 tsp illachi dana (cardamom seeds)


1.  Peel the carrots, rinse in cold water and then cut them in half and slice lengthwise into 2 or 3 inch pieces.

2.  Place in a large pot of water, cover with a lid and let it boil over high heat for 10 minutes.

3. Take the pot off the heat and remove the carrots, but keep the water. Let the carrots cool off on a plate. When they are cool, prick each piece with a fork to allow the syrup to soak in later.

4.  Add the sugar into the water and place the pot back on stove over high heat and bring to a boil to make the syrup.

5.  Add the carrots and the illachi dana to the syrup and reduce the heat to medium. When the syrup turns thicker and stringy, turn the heat off and let the contents cool off.

6.  When it is cool to touch, scoop the contents into glass containers. You can store this for a long time in the fridge and use like jam.



Many Indian dishes use raisins, if the chef wants to, such as in biryanis and some snacks, and certainly in sweets like suji da halwa (cream of wheat pudding) and sewiyan (sweetened vermicelli). Indians love them texture of raisins and the sweet and sour flavoring it gives to food. Often, during Diwali and Eid, raisins and other dry foods are on sale as there is a high demand for them.

But often people forget how to store raisins (and other dry fruits) once the need is over. Always store them in a tightly closed container in a cool place, preferably the fridge, so that they stay fresh longer. When you need to use the raisins, take out for half an hour or, if they are hardened, soak in warm water for 10 minutes, drain and then let them dry on a paper towel before using.


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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur (since renamed Faisalabad), India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.