I am an animal lover, I am.
And a food lover. But being a food lover doesn’t equate to savoring rice gruel. And so, loving animals doesn’t mean I have to be a cat person.
Now interesting things happen to both The Boy and I when we encounter feline fiends. It all starts with teary eyes and delicate coughs, punctuated by the occasional sniff. It almost always ends with beet red runny noses, thunderous sneezes and trilling wheezes. And as an added bonus, we breath like Darth Vader for the next two days.
It was Diwali two weekends ago. One of my most favorite festivals that involves much eating, drinking and gambling. And instead of lighting lamps and stuffing my face, I found myself face to face with:
The Boy blamed it all on the overdose of vegetarian food he had been having. We sneezed and wheezed through the weekend, and the cat insisted on stalking us, sharing our couch, sleeping on our bed, all the while looking at us reproachfully.
We fled post haste, only to be struck by a bizarre snowstorm all the way back home. Halloween came two weeks early this year I suppose.
Back home and happy to be breathing again, I felt I had to do something special, even though Diwali was far gone. I decided to whip up one of my favorite desserts. With all the milk that goes into this beauty, maybe Fuzzles will forgive me for the cold shoulder.
I usually make this dessert every Diwali, and serve it in silver bowls and glasses. I am pleased to note that over the years this has become a little tradition in the LikeItSpicy household. I have tried it both with and without the cardamom seeds. I personally prefer the version WITHOUT the cardamom, but have included it in this recipe as an optional ingredient.
½ gallon whole milk
½ lb raw unsalted almonds (peeled if you find them)
1¼ cups sugar
2 green cardamoms (optional)
Pinch of saffron
Submerge almonds in water and soak for at least 6-8 hours or overnight. If your almonds have their skins on, you need to peel them. Soak them for an additional 15 minutes in piping hot water before peeling. The hot water makes the peels pop right off when you gently press one end of the almond between your thumb and forefinger. (It took me all of 20 minutes to get through the lot.)
Drain all the water. Reserve 10-12 almonds, and blend the remaining with a cup of milk into a smooth paste, adding more milk as you blend if necessary.
Pour the rest of the milk into a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a slow boil. Pound the cardamoms, remove the black seeds and crush them lightly (I just use the back of a ladle). Sliver the reserved almonds.
Add the almond paste, sugar, cardamom seeds and saffron to the milk, lower the flame and continue to heat gently, stirring frequently to prevent the kheer from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
In about a half hour the kheer will reduce and become slightly thicker. Throw in the slivered almonds. Lower the flame further and continue to cook for about 20 minutes. Turn off the flame, let it come to room temperature and then stick it in the fridge.
Serve chilled. Garnish individual bowls with a pinch of saffron for a festive look.
Makes 8-10 servings.