‘Every sentient being has a mind whose fundamental nature is essentially pure…’
The Dalai Lama
My faith and belief in this sublime thought is compounded by my beautiful life and the various people that I meet.
This post brings to you a traditional Indian recipe of the classic North Indian Kheer/Rice pudding and an unbiased review of a fabulous book.
Some time back I was invited for coffee. The invite was spontaneous, genuine and exhorted such positive vibes that I could not say no. My hosts were a very lovely mother daughter duo who read, write and lead such simple unpretentious lives, that you cannot help but be inspired.
Sometimes it was books that we spoke about, and at other times the conversation reeled towards spirituality or parenting. The ambience warm and endearing. The talk intelligent, honest and the coffee. Perfect. What more could I ask for?
A book. A great book.
We exchange, suggest and review books unofficially for each other. So when I rose to take their leave, the very lovely daughter hands me a book and says “I took this out especially for you”. What a way to bid adieu. I beamed.
The Dalai Lama’s Cat is a stunner. To say it is unassumingly preachy, supremely intelligent and endearingly funny, would not be a fabrication.
The Dalai Lama’s Cat is David Michie’s novel account of life with the Dalai Lama from the perspective of a cat. How Interesting!
This book offers a sneak peak into a Buddhists life, their simple elevated thoughts and a fresh take on “happiness”. That elusive word, which every human being strives and fights for.
Can Happiness be conquered? What does it take to become “Wisely Selfish”. David Michie gives a Buddhist’s take on Life and Happiness in such a seamless effortless way, that you learn from the book without being nagged and preached. Buddhist mantra of Love and Compassion to all is beautifully etched in the various rendezvous of His Holiness’s Cat.
Kheer, a very traditional Indian rice pudding is also known as payasam(in kannada, tamil, telugu and malyalam) or Payesh(in Bengali).
Typically, rice is boiled in milk, infused with flavors of cardamom, lightly colored by saffron and loaded with assorted nuts. The variations are plenty and the taste, inexplicable. This exquisite sweet dish is usually made on special occasions like on festive days or for poojas.
I love the fragrance and flavor of saffron/Kesar/Zaffran. The inclusiveness of saffron is optional but the slightest addition elevates the dish and takes it to another supreme level. So I would say it is integral to my recipe of kheer.
- 1 litre milk, whole or toned, as you please
- 1.5 tbsp of raw rice, washed and soaked for 10 minutes
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 pinch of saffron, soaked in a tbsp of warm milk
- 1/2 cup of assorted nuts, I used almonds, cashews, pistachios and raisins, preferably soaked in little milk
- 3 tbsp of sugar, change as per your desired level of sweetness
In a thick bottomed pan, heat milk. Once it boils, add the raw rice and mix. Keep simmering and stirring all the while till the milk reduces to almost half the quantity. The milk will thicken and gradually stick to the sides. Keep scraping the sides and let the entire mix form into one cohesive thick stew. Add cardamom, saffron(rubbed in warm milk), assorted nuts and sugar towards the end. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
If you like the consistency thin, do not reduce the milk to half, add the sugar-cardamom-saffron-nuts mix earlier and get done with it. We like kheer thick and pudding like, almost that of ‘rabdi’ consistency.
If you notice I have added very less sugar, the natural sweetness and flavor of milk and dry fruits, along with little bit of sweetner is enough to satiate those saccharine cravings. So, to get maximum flavors and taste, keep the sugar minimum and see the difference.
We chill the kheer and top it with pistachios and saffron. Each bite is like an almost set rice pudding, loaded with nuts and enhanced by cardamom.
Heaven, dear readers, Heaven!
The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?