Golshifteh spends a day with her grandparents and they make jam from the carrots in their backyard. ‘Carrot jam?’ you ask? Yes. Carrot jam. Delicious.
It had been a long and boring school holiday for Golshifteh. There were only three days left until the school term started and she had no exciting stories to tell her friends when she went back.
“Goli, I have to go to work today so you will have to stay with your Mamani and Babajoon”, her mother told her.
Golshifteh didn’t like going to her grandparents’ house. There was nothing to do there. They didn’t have a TV or a computer. It was so boring. On the way over, Golshifteh pleaded with her mother. “Maman please, can’t I go with you to work? I promise I’ll be quiet.”
“I’m sorry, Goli joon. That’s not possible. It will be much more fun at Mamani and Babajoon’s house, I promise.”
When they arrived at Golshifteh’s grandparents’ house, Golshifteh walked into the kitchen where she saw her Babajoon sitting at the table. He had white short hair combed back over a bald patch on the top of his head and a large shiny nose. Golshifteh sat beside him.
“Salam Golam, how are you?”
Golshifteh’s grandfather always called her Golam, which means ‘my flower’ in Persian.
“Goli jan,” Mamani called out from the hallway. “Now the rain has cleared we can do some gardening.” Mamani gestured to the gloves in her hands.
Golshifteh reluctantly slid on the gloves and followed Mamani into the backyard.
“Now, when you see a weed like this, you need to pull it out. Grab the weed from the very bottom and yank it out.”
Golshifteh really didn’t want to spend her day pulling weeds out, but didn’t want to disappoint Mamani either. She leant down and grabbed a weed just like Mamani had shown her, and it came out roots and all. After a few weeds had been successfully removed, Golshifteh began to enjoy it. When she pulled out the next weed, she noticed something peculiar. The root on this weed was orange and thick. It almost looked like a-
“Ah, you’ve found my carrots. I forgot where I planted them.”
“Sorry, I didn’t realise it wasn’t a weed.”
Mamani took a look at the bright orange carrot and smiled. “No, don’t be sorry. It’s ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“Ready to make jam with.”
What a bizarre thing to make jam out of, Golshifteh thought.
“Let’s pull out some more.” Mamani dashed back into the house and appeared with a plastic bowl. Golshifteh helped Mamani pull out more carrots from the garden.
“Are they the missing carrots from the garden?” Babajoon asked when Mamani and Golshifteh were back in the kitchen, chuckling to himself.
“They sure are,” Mamani replied.
“Firstly, you have to peel and grate the carrots,” Mamani said as she passed a grater and bowl to Golshifteh. Mamani passed the peeled carrots to Golshifteh and she, in turn, grated them into a large metal bowl. After all the carrots were grated, Babajoon poured two cups of sugar and two cups of water into a pan and placed it on the stove.
“Golam, can you please bring me the cardamom pods from the pantry?”
Golshifteh opened the pantry and the smell of dried rose petals and mint filled her nostrils. The pantry was full to the brim with jars, packets of spices and foods, but she didn’t see any cardamom pods.
Before she could ask Babajoon where they were, Mamani shouted. “Look straight ahead and to the left.” There were many different jars all neatly placed in rows with make-shift tags. She grabbed the one that said ‘cardamom’ and brought it to Babajoon.
“Now, listen carefully so you can learn. You bring the sugar and water to a boil. After, we add the carrots, cardamom and -” Babajoon paused and looked over to the orange rinds. “That’s it!”
He grabbed a handful and dropped it into the pan. Golshifteh thought maybe with the orange peel, it might not be so terrible after all.
“I think it is time for the carrot,” Babajoon announced. Mamani grabbed the bowl of grated carrot and slowly scooped it into the pan. Golshifteh was assigned the job of stirring.
“Okay, I think it’s time for the rosewater and lime juice,” Babajoon said once he added all of the ingredients to the pot as Golshifteh continued to stir.
Mamani grabbed a teaspoon and tried some of the hot jam. “Mmm… I think it’s done. Would you like to try?”
“No thank you,” Golshifteh said, shaking her head.
“Okay but you don’t know what you’re missing out on,” Mamani replied.
“Okay Golam, this is the tough part.” Babajoon ladled the steaming hot carrot jam carefully into each jar as Golshifteh watched carefully.
“It smells so good inhere!” Golshifteh’s mother arrived and walked up to Babajoon to see what was going on.
“Of course it does we have been making carrot jam,” Babajoon replied.
After Babajoon finished jarring the jam, everyone sat down to drink tea and enjoy some fresh carrot jam. Golshifteh hesitantly tried the carrot jam on bread and was pleasantly surprised. The carrot jam wasn’t at all what she expected and she even asked for seconds. When they left, Mamani gave Golshifteh her own jar of carrot jam to take home with her.
On the drive home, Golshifteh realised that her holidays were not boring after all, and she couldn’t wait to tell everyone on Monday about making carrot jam with her grandparents.
Words by Nelya Valamanesh.
Images by Rachael Sharman.