In India, particularly the North, come winter and it’s carrot season, with the ever-popular gajrela or gajar ka halwa. Not all gajar ka halwa, nevertheless, is the acquainted orange we’re used to. White carrots or safed gajar can be used to make the halwa, as is the black carrot or kala gajar.
The latter can be a part of a kanji made within the North throughout winters. Varanasi is especially in style for its black carrot or kala gajar halwa. Nonetheless, as cultivator G Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samrudha factors out, quite a few different types of carrots exist in India as nicely. Krishna has been answerable for encouraging cultivation of heritage, heirloom types of cereals, rice, greens, and tubers, and bringing it into the mainstream. Krishna explains, “Before the 17th Century, almost all cultivated carrots were purple. Black or purple carrot was widely cultivated in ancient India. The modern-day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th Century took mutant strains of the purple carrot and gradually developed them into the sweet, plump, orange variety we have today. It then came to India through the British. India’s pride is native black and purple carrot, which we have ignored completely.”
Raman Mann, an natural farmer who organises the Chandigarh Natural Market, says, “In Punjab, several farmers grow the black variety of carrots along with the traditional red one. The black carrot is grown using old preserved seeds. The white variety is not grown here.” Mann provides, “The black selection is an attention-grabbing one and can be utilized in quite a few methods. It may be used for making kanji, murabbas, pickles and halwa. For my part, black carrot halwa is tastier than the standard crimson one. It additionally seems beautiful, given its purple color.”
To popularise these indigenous varieties, Karnataka-based Sahaja Samrudha launched into a challenge. Anitha Reddy, Trustee, Sahaja Samrudha, works on vegetable initiatives offering market linkages and says, “This region, that falls in the Anekal Taluk of Bangalore Urban District, is renowned for carrot cultivation. The farmers belong to the Tillanga or gardener community, and have green thumbs. They grow over 40 varieties of vegetables, including 12 of brinjals. They were growing hybrid varieties of carrots which are resource intensive. We introduced four varieties of carrots and grew the hybrid one as a test exercise.” The farmers may check the produce and evaluate the yield with the hybrid one. The yield was roughly the identical, and farmers took to the 4 varieties — crimson carrot, yellow carrot, karud kesari (orange colored selection) and black carrot.
Reddy provides, “The farmers develop carrots from July onwards, going as much as March. They’re rising crimson, kesari and black.” Of those, the black selection is grown extra for its well being advantages. Nonetheless, probably the most attention-grabbing carrot is the yellow one. It smells like jeerige maavu (jeera flavoured number of mango), so the ladies develop these in small patches and use it to make pickles.
White carrots are grown in Uttar Pradesh, and make their look in Delhi throughout the winters. These are used to make the irresistible safed gajar halwa. Nothing a lot is understood about white carrots, not even whether or not they’re indigenous to India. Nonetheless, because the custom of white gajar halwa is about 60 years outdated, it’s doable that it’s an imported selection. Dr Shrawan Singh, a scientist at Indian Agricultural Analysis Institute, Pusa, who has labored extensively on carrots, says, “Not like mangoes or chillies, the desi types of carrots shouldn’t have any names. They’re identified from the realm they’re grown, like Hisar, Sirsa and so forth. At Pusa, a number of such desi ones have been improved for cultivation. White carrots usually are not indigenous however extra of an unique selection. The manufacturing is just not excessive.”
Sahaja Samrudha’s seed calendar talks about wild carrots and purple carrots. Wild ones develop like weeds, and their seeds have been preserved by a farmer from Gadag, dryland area of Karnataka. It will not be appropriate for business cultivation, however wonderful for free soil and holds rain water. The case of the purple carrot could be very attention-grabbing. It has the very best shelf life, highest carotene content material and appears very fairly with a stupendous purple tinge. The calendar provides varieties and their rising strategies.