Monday, June 4, 2007

Kheer, a creamy delight

It was Rumi's house in Dhaka where I first tasted “kheer”. She made it for my farewell dinner. An excellent cook and joyful friend, she took care of me like her own little sister.

Food is a scrapbook with scent and delight for me.
The days were really hot and humid. After Bangladesh summer, I stopped complaining any heat. The heat and humidity intensifies everything. The days were as vivid as it could be in one’s mind.
The thick walls of old buildings could protect me from the heat but not from the humidity. And finally, the air never cool down through out the day. The cool dairy offered me only refuge. It was like afternoon shower. Yogurts were thick sour and sweet. Adding jaggery or rock salt, the flavor changes dramatically. I wasn’t so impressed about milk since it has been boiled too thick for my taste. And there was kheer.
I watched Rumi cook it. Like many good home chiefs, she hasn’t written down any of her recipes. So the only way –which is the best way for me – was watching her cooking and tasting the food.

The fragrance of cardamom works both cool and warm. The hint of rose water works as je ne sai quoi, making the cardamom’s strong taste into something subtle and sweet. Raisin plums up with milk and bright green pistachios add texture and color. It becomes a perfect summer refreshment.

I made this for Jim’s farewell party. Rumi is professor Karim’s wife, and both are very good friends of Jim. Since he was the one who sent me to Bangladesh, I thought there were no better dish I could make for him.


1/3 gal whole Milk, 1/4 cup of light cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, 3 cardamom pod, bruised, angel hair pasta 1/5 pound, 1/2 cup of raisin, 1/2 cup of shelled pistachio, 1/2 teaspoon of rose water, pinch of salt

1. Gently scald milk and cream with cardamom, sugar, and salt for an hour. Stir now and then to prevent the bottom from burning.
2. Break pasta into an inch length.
3. Crank up the heat to medium. When the mixture is about to boil, add pasta and raisin, and stir about 10 to 15 minutes till pasta is fully cooked. This is no place for al dente!
4. Remove from heat and let it completely cool down.
5. Add rosewater and pistachio and refrigerate for at least one hour. Overnight will be better.

** Before serving, if it is too thick, then add milk little bit.

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