Sometimes, I miss my Mother’s home. I miss the comfort in knowing there is always something cooked for me and I won’t need to make any effort for anything in the kitchen department. When a certain mood for a certain meal comes on, it’s then that I miss the ease of simply saying ‘I want to have (insert desired food here) for dinner’ and knowing that at 8’o’clock sharp, it will be there for me on the kitchen table. I had taken for granted the comforts of living at home. Whilst I absolutely love cooking, sometimes the thought of coming home from a wet, cold, busy day to a warm, home-cooked dinner sounds like heaven on earth to me.
I remember not being happy when I would ask my Mother ‘What’s for dinner?’, to have her reply with ‘Vegetables’. See, I’m a big fan of red meat and my Mother an even bigger fan of vegetables. Vegetarian dishes would be on the dinner table often and about 75% of the time I’d be left avoiding dinner on those days. Now, a steaming bowl of sabzi, my Mother’s favourite combination of capsicum, potatoes, peas and carrots sounds like the perfect meal to really hit the spot after a long day of studying.
Sometimes I would ask her ‘Is there any dessert?’ and she would tell me ‘Yes, we have kheer/halwa/sawaiyan/gajrela chilling in the fridge’ and I would sigh, wishing there was a decadent slice of chocolate cake waiting for me in the fridge instead. I still would like a decadent slice of chocolate cake, mind you, but now a serving of kheer magically sounds a lot more appealing than it did before. Sometimes, a hot bowl of sawaiyan (milky vermicelli) becomes a raging craving on a lonely rainy day. What is it about marriage and moving out of your parent’s house that changes you so much? It’s as though it gets down to your deepest inner self and restructures you, your preferences and tastes, your thoughts and way of life entirely. It’s an amazing yet humbling thing. I’m certain I’m not the only one who has learnt just how amazing their Mother and their Mother’s food was after they left home.
Amongst many things, marriage has taught me that desi desserts take much longer and more effort than other desserts I’ve made in the past. Often, they use litres of milk, condensed down into small portions to give an utterly rich and sinfully creamy taste. This takes a lot of time and A LOT of stirring. Cream, evaporated milk or khoya is also used in many recipes. For this kheer, I took the simple route and use only milk and sugar. Some people also use saffron, vanilla, cinnamon etc for a kick of flavour. Those variations all taste fantastic and I would love to share them with you someday soon, but today I’d like to share with you the classic, basic and simple elaichi (cardamom) flavoured kheer my Mother used to make. The end results won’t make you feel like you’re missing out on anything.
Sometimes, a craving for something sweet and rich comes on strong and a bar of chocolate or a piece of fruit won’t do.
Sometimes, you want to make dessert but don’t want to put in a lot of effort. You want to go through some simple motions, your mind pondering over other thoughts, and say ‘ta-dah! Dessert is ready.’
Sometimes, it’s nice to make something fancy and wow other people, but at other times you still want that ‘wow’ reaction but without a messy kitchen and sink full of dishes to boot.
Sometimes, you just want a one-pot, no-fail recipe.
Sometimes, you just want a comforting, warm hug in the form of a more-ish, luxurious bowl of dessert.
All of this, and more, can come in the form of kheer.
Enjoy, with love