Ever woken up in the middle of the night craving for sweets? Naah, I do not mean the American cheese cake or the black forest cake, but the typical Indian sweets? Now, I never buy sweets from the Indian stores. I once bought 10 laddus in all of 4 varieties on a Friday evening, wanting to share it with my lab mates the next Monday. The entire weekend I had spent dipped in bucketful of guilt, having eaten all the laddus myself.
People have a sweet tooth. I claim that all my 28 teeth are sweet. And of all the days, I had to crave for sweets when I didn’t even have milk at home. How to I pacify myself?
Irritated and grumpy with myself, I got out of bed, brushed, and put on my thinking cap. I wish I could go back to sleep fantasizing about sweets, but that was not happening. Think harder! Something had to be done to mollify this sudden bout of sweet craving.
I heard the next door guy use the microwave. Still awake so late? I could already see my plan taking shape.
* Went out and told him hi, and gave him my sweetest smile.
* Told him that I barely saw him these days and if he was working very hard to get that Nobel prize he rightfully deserved.
*Opened the fridge and scooped out a whole large spoonful of vegetable curry for him, telling him that this is an Indian delicacy I was planning to share with him.
*Delved into the fridge, digging my nose into it and then making incoherent regret moans. Tsk tsk.
* Told him that since I had to keep awake at night studying, I came looking for some coffee, but it’s fine since I did not have milk.
Thankfully, my plan worked and he almost jumped at me, trying to help.
“Oh no milk? Take it from me. And don’t ask me again, if you need for coffee, take it anytime you want”.
I started to act all coy and “no-no, thank you so much but I’ll survive without milk”, but after he left and shut his door and before he could open the door again telling me that he had changed his mind about the milk and being helpful, I grabbed at it.
Coffee be darned, I filled half the frying pan with milk. Put it on low flame and left it that way. But what to do with milk? Think, think.
Suddenly, a brilliant idea hit me. I had this huge packet of breakfast cereals that was quite misleadingly called “Honey bunches of oats with almonds”. I had bought it all greedy about the almond part, only to discover that there was one thin shaving of one-twentieth of an almond for every five spoonful of cereal. So the next 20 minutes was spent ripping open the cereal packet, hand picking the almond shavings, and putting it into the milk. Thankfully, I remembered mom telling someone always to add the sugar last while boiling milk so that it did not char.
So for the next 2 hours, the milk with tiny shavings of almond boiled. Two hours later when the milk had almost reduced to half its volume and had a brownish, thicker consistency to it post addition of the sugar, I knew my food was ready. I knew not what I had made of it and if it was an American version of payesh. But one mouthful and I was going mmmm mmmmmm mmmmm!
I thought it tasted a little like rasmalai, a little like rabri, and a little like kheer. The fat or malai was sticking to the walls of the pan with a thickness of almost a few millimeters, and scraping it with the steel spoon, the almond bits embedded in it was just…. just… just….Heavenly !!!
I licked my lips like a greedy cat, and man, finally after 4 am, it was the “sweetest” sleep I had. All puns intended.