Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hello, Winter

Winter is slowly creeping into Delhi. I know because when Panda jumps on the bed and tries to pull the covers off me, I grumble at him and snuggle deeper. I know because driving in the nights, you can see the fog, like wisps of chilly smoke, swirling before the car's headlights. And I know because I've developed a deep craving for rice pudding.
It was a couple of nights ago; only the dog and I were at home. He had been fed and walked and now with his cold nose digging into my palm I was left with the delicious conundrum of what to make for dinner. I was tired and sleepy and wanted something warm and soft, that I could ideally cradle in a bowl while reading. So bloomed the idea of rice pudding. I defy you to find food more comforting. I began with a handful of rice and cooked it risotto style as the rice thirstily absorbed more milk that I had thought possible. Panda distracted me for a few minutes, nibbling the tassels off a cushion and I had to descend upon him to exact vengeance. By the time I returned to my stove it was smoking ominously and the sides of my pristinely white pudding were burnt brown. Now I belong to the school of thought that insists that rice pudding must remain white, white as snow. Rather than discarding my entire pot, a gesture that seemed excessive, I sought to disguise my mistake. Hence, the chocolate. I stirred in a tablespoon of cocoa and made the whole pudding brown. I grated in nutmeg, to add a different spicy dimension to the depth of the cocoa. I sang as my pot bubbled merrily, and Panda came sniffing at the kitchen doorway; he knew good things were cooking. When my pudding was finally done, it was thick and creamy and the rice still had a bit of a chew. The raisins inside had plumped up nicely and they stayed hidden inside the brown hued pudding, like the best surprises.
And I ate it, a whole bowlful all by myself, with my feet tucked under a wriggly dog and my fingers wrapped around a warm bowl, and winter seemed quite jolly.
Chocolate rice pudding
Milk: 4 cups
Rice: 2 tbsp
Sugar: 3 tbsp
Unsweetened cocoa powder: 1 tbsp
Raisins: a handful
nutmeg: 1/2 tsp
Be warned, this is a time consuming recipe, albeit very simple so long as your house isn't ruled by a mischievous dog. Begin with two cups of milk and add the rice. Boil the mixture until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring continuously. Add the remaining milk, half a cup at a time, stirring very often. Check the rice time and again, to see it it's cooked. Cooking time will vary with the type of rice you use. Before you pour in the last half cup of rice, stir in the cocoa, sugar, nutmeg and raisins. Pour in the last half cup and check the rice for doneness. For me, this took about 40 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, give it a final boil and turn off the heat. Serve warm, but not too hot.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The colour of sunshine

Starting from now on, I've decided to make Colours a food blog. You see, I began my other blog "In Pursuit of Happiness" thinking that I could write the same sort of miniature epiphanies and happenings there and that the two wouldn't overlap. Time proved me wrong. So from now on, I think I'll save most of my musings for the other blog and focus here, on the food. Do excuse my photography, I'm really not very good at it. I do try though.
Yesterday, Amma and Appa threw a lunch party. I, of course, threw myself into the preparations; I do love entertaining. The dessert course was my sole responsibility and I decided to experiment upon our hapless guests. This here, isn't ice cream. It's frozen yogurt. And as I learnt, the sooner I stopped expecting it to taste like ice cream, the better I could appreciate it for what it was. And it sure was delicious. Yogurt is a combination of curds and water, and mine was the pure thing, with no additives. Also, I didn't have an ice cream maker, so there was no way my concoction was going to be silky or smooth. It was however robust, with minuscule ice crystals that rubbed up against the tongue and melted, leaving behind a slightly sour tang. I flavoured it with saffron, which gave it it's sunshiny hue and gussied it up with some honey, which added a floral kick. Here's the recipe if you want to try it at home.
Saffron flavoured frozen yogurt
Yogurt: 1ltr
Powdered sugar: 1 cup
Saffron: 1 large pinch
Milk: 2 tbsp
Chill the yogurt in your freezer until it sets along the sides of the bowl and only the centre is still soft. Boil the two tablespoons of milk and add the saffron, to release its flavour. Add the milk and sugar to the yogurt and beat, either with a whisk, or a blender, till the entire mixture looks thick and homogeneous. Freeze for about two hours. Repeat the beating, to break up the ice crystals. Freeze for another two hours, then serve.