Friday, 8 June 2012


Hello People! Missed you. Missed writing for you. Did not miss the cooking though. (Which home-maker has ever escaped that!) We landed in India on Tuesday & Sunday was P’s birthday. Not his fault really. Not mine either that I have pampered him & made him expect surprises on his special day. So much so that the gent has the gall to lament aaj khali khali sa lag raha hai the day after ! And then he has some more treasure hunt to do the next day so that the khalipan doesn’t overwhelm. All this in the name of love is very fine & mushy in good times. Not if you have come back to a locked-for-almost-a-year-house, been greeted by the pigeon family & their mites & taken care not to tread on their freshly-laid eggs. And we are not talking dust & spiders. Thanks to Manju that was taken care of to a welcoming degree.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A good friend did promise a deal but after a journey that lasts forever, you may not have the energy to call up friends. Good or otherwise. Correction there. Jim I did call. Nobody makes cakes like his bakers. And that they have three branches in the NCR, and one in my vicinity, is such a blessing. The Chocolate Excess arrived, I managed to tuck it away & sat glumly. The gent had heard the doorbell. ‘Who’s it?’ ‘The neighbour,’ say I. And try to look away. His hand reaches the fridge door. The glee on his mug is child-like. ‘Kya aaya?’ There is a lot of food exchange that happens thanks to our friendly neighbours. It was almost a given that the first few days, somebody will bring you some meal. I cannot shout out a kuch nahi for fear of raising suspicion. The mild kuch nahi with that dead-giveaway of a smile makes him open the fridge. The big Baker Street box transforms the smile to a laugh accompanied by a joyous shout. And I know I have dug my grave a little deeper. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What did remain a surprise was the lunch thrown for friends & big bro. The cleaning spree happened full-throttle, the maid decided to remain absent, the birthday boy had to run errands & clean & withstand frayed nerves that were unsolicited. By midday he was ready to collapse. In front of the TV. To an enthusiastic query of, ‘hey happy b’day, how are you feeling?’ came the energy-depleted , ‘tired’, response. ‘Even I am tired. The only difference is it’s your b'day so you don’t feel like working,’ say I. ‘Isn’t that reason good enough?!’ leaves me confounded. And smiling :) ‘Not really. When there are only two people in the house, both have to share work. Quote unquote’, leaves him zipped. And smiling.
                                                                                                            Payesh/Kheer, rice cooked in thickened milk, is a traditional Bong’s way of celebrating an auspicious day. As a mod Bong-Bihari duo, we have the cake and the payesh. And call the latter, kheer :) That the payesh was a super-duper hit was proved when bhai wanted a second help. How a chef loves serving the foodie! The variation of the kashmiri chicken found an appreciative audience while the paneer capsi jalfrezi had to be content on the sole veggie’s plate. Sigh! The dahi vada gave the hot lunch a cool quotient & all-in-all it was a great celebration that rounded off with the friends suggesting Rowdy Rathore and we happily obliging. And amidst the nimbu pani, excess chocolate & camaraderie, you realize what you miss in a foreign land....
1.  2 ltr full-cream milk
2.  ½ cup broken rice- washed & soaked
3. 1 cup sugar
4.  ¼ cup condensed milk(optional)
5.  A handful kaju, kishmish
6. ½ tsp cardamom powder/4-5 whole cardamoms
1. Boil the milk on sim to thicken it to 3/4th its amount. Add the whole cardamoms now. (If using powdered elaichi, leave for later)
2.   Add the soaked rice & allow cooking in the thickened milk. Keep stirring periodically to check that no lumps are formed/ rice does not stick to the vessel-bottom.
3.  Add the dry fruit and stir on.
4.   When rice is cooked, add sugar & condensed milk(if using) and mix well. 
5.  Add cardamom powder, mix properly & remove from flame.
                                                                                                                                                Serve payesh at room temperature. Cold may make the rice harden. Hot is a no-no. You don't want loosies!

Happy Birthday, P. No surprises next year. Please!!!

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