The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley 

“Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance” ♥

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Life is never easy for anyone; we ALL go through life’s many troughs and peaks. Some emerge bitter, others better. If you are wondering why am I today in this mood of talking about life fundas, well, I am today going to introduce you to a very dear and treasured friend of mine. The two sentences featured on the top of this post, kind of, sum up our friendship. We met during Fall nearly one and a half decade ago, at the university where we had enrolled for MBA. After the classes were over, we realised we happened to be next door neighbours at the hostel. Her delicate features and her fragile looking frame gave the impression of a person with a frail constitution.  We were to learn only later that, that frail appearing body was tougher than we thought; besides a mind that was even more tough and persevering. We became besties in just a few months’ time. I was always the introvert one and she, the friendly, outgoing, daredevil and enthusiastic one. She cared for me just as someone would for a sister. I would at times seek her advice on certain personal matters and her advice would always be in tandem with what my parents would say. It was an obvious indicator that I had come across a person who was honest and genuine in her intent.

I began to feel less home-sick with wonderful friends around me and then suddenly four months down the line we learnt that she had got selected in one of the branches of the armed forces and would leave by January. (She had enrolled in the management program as a cushion, just in case she didn’t make it there) It was hard to believe that this frail looking person had cracked armed services physical tests. And although I was thrilled for her, since it was her ambition to join the armed forces, somewhere deep inside I could not imagine her absence in the class and the hostel. We bade good byes with heavy hearts and teary eyes & with a promise to stay in touch. I chose to believe that her hectic training would leave her no time to stay in touch with her university pals and she would be busy making so many new friends at the academy.

Then one fine day I saw an envelope bearing my name, with her inimitable handwriting! I hastily tore open the envelope and there was this 4-page letter staring at me. She had written to me all about her training, how tough and demanding it was and how each and every cell of her body ached; even her hands, from holding that heavy rifle that weighed almost her own weight! She was writing this letter in her barrack in torch light since the lights were switched off and no one was supposed to stay awake beyond that and those that did, invited severe punishment. Tears strolled down my cheeks and at that point I knew that the friendship of a lifetime had begun

Post our respective courses got over, our separate lives took lots of twists and turns and none for better, but by God’s grace, we not only stayed in touch but also stood by each other, like the rock of Gibraltar. All through this, all I can say is the clichéd – “tough times do not last but tough people do”. She looked life straight in the eyes and always took it head on. Ultimately it was life that cowered down and I am so happy for her today. Touch wood!

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We often used to talk and wonder that what we ever did to anyone that life was giving us so much unwarranted pain. But later we realized that it was all that pain and suffering that made us who we are today life taught us how to take things into our stride without getting thrown off by its many curve balls, growing tougher and wiser, learning when to let go, letting go off a lot of unnecessary baggage – past or present and learning the most valuable of all lessons – forgiveness.  That entire grind perhaps adds to one’s sheen I guess. And beyond making us who we are today, it also made our bond stronger and closer than ever.

AND it was she who nudged me towards writing and encouraged me to start my own food blogToday, she is an entrepreneur (she took voluntary retirement) who just started her own online shopping portal. And as a last word before I proceed to the recipe, I really thank God for blessing me with wonderful friends, family, acquaintances and people in my life. Good and bad times come and go but having people who stand by our side through thick and thin are definitely a blessing that one should cherish and hold dear. And I choose to count my blessings more than anything else I am dedicating this post to my friend and I close this post with these lines I read somewhere “Having a soul mate is not always about love, you can find your soul mate in a friendship too.” Stay blessed you all

1½ C roasted Peanuts (skin removed)

1½ – 1¾ C Gur (Jaggery), shredded (the quantity depends on how sweet you like the chikki)

1½ tsp Water

1 tsp Fennel Seeds

1 Ginger powder

Oil or Ghee to grease

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Grease a clean surface with a neutral tasting oil or ghee. Or lightly grease a parchment paper. Set aside. You can even use a baking sheet or tin but I prefer to go free style with shaping the brittle.

Take cold water in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a thick bottom non-stick pan, and add water and jaggery to it. Melt it and once it begins to bubble, lower the heat to minimum. Keep cooking and stirring the jaggery all along. When it starts to simmer/ bubble again, start testing for the done-ness. Drop a few drops in cold water and if it becomes hard the jaggery is done. If not, keep heating it and stirring it on the same heat and check again till the desired consistency is reached, which is, it should become brittle and break with a snap sound. (It took me approximately 25 minutes on low heat)

Switch off the heat and remove the pan and add the fennel seeds and ginger powder. Keep stirring the contents and then add the peanuts. Stir well and quickly lay contents on the greased surface. Using a greased rolling pin or a spatula, spread out the contents to approximately 1 mm thickness. Allow the brittle to cool and then break in shards or cut them into desired size. I marked the brittle, after spreading it, with a knife so I could break them easily later.

Note: Using the aromatics i.e. fennel and ginger powder is optional.

Note: The jaggery I used was medium soft and I shredded it using a knife and it yielded 1¾ cups. You can grate if yours’ is hard

Note: Ensure that you caramelise/ cook the jaggery on low flame.

Note: Constantly keep stirring the jaggery while it cooks and do not leave it unattended at any point.

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This brittle is a nice edible gift that you can give to your loved ones

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