The charm of summer in Delhi is the lack of inspiration around. We miss the enticing last summer. We were in hometown, Nainital, far away from the rest of the world, where summer is for perfect family picnics, trekking expeditions, local berries and seasonal fruits. But by the time winter came, we started missing the urban civilization and buzzing lifestyle. And to experience that, we shifted our base to Delhi – the heart of the nation. Summer in Delhi is deserted – the only sound is of an occasional bird cuckooing in the garden or a slow, rusty leaf falling from the tree. As described by the famous writer Ahmed Ali, Delhi summer is the season of ‘unending noon’. But even in the midst of such dullness, the beautiful hue of Jamun (Java Plum) inspired me to step ahead and play with the flavors of the fruit. Hence, the result is Jamun (Java Plum) frozen Yogurt.
Jalebi Recipe, a conventional Indian sweet, which needs no defining introduction. This deep-fried pretzel like sweet – dish from India is well celebrated among the food lovers. The batter prepared with white flour defined into twisted and tangled concentric circles, deep-fried till crunchy and later dunked in saccharine sugar syrup. The moment batter touches the hot oil it starts taking whimsical shapes as if the batter has a mind of its own. The pair of hands seasoned with years of practice could only master the tactful technique of shaping perfect Jalebi. That precise moment of the wrist is required to create exemplary well-coordinated circles. It is always absorbing to watch the Halwai make Jalebis. The man sitting beside the wide and flat skillet filled with pre-heated oil, the batter filled in a muslin cloth, he moves his wrist like a magic wand in a rhythmic motion over the kadhai and voila, there you have Jalebi ready.
Pahadi Vrat Ki Panjiri is saccharine homemade fudge with a warmth of spices to its flavor. There is a pleasant drop in the temperature, early morning breeze has a welcoming note to it and the evenings are cozy. It is officially autumn knocking at the door with its full bloom. While brewing the first cup of tea in the morning, there is a kind of charming quietness and crispness in the air. That moment of the day I want to hold time hostage for a while and let my thoughts immerse in the first rays of the sun. Once such morning, while sipping coffee memories of a spicy kind of sweet mother used to prepare before winters cluttered my mind. The vague memories of its taste lingered in my taste buds. As the day progressed into a bright sunny one, I called mother, the first few introductory lines about the mysterious fudge were enough for her to guess the name – Vrat Ki Panjiri.
Basundi Recipe is a traditional Gujarati milk pudding laced with the rich flavor of saffron and dry fruits. We are slowly and steadily creeping into the celebratory mood with all the Indian festivals lined up in the coming month. During the festive season we don’t mind to come out of our cocoon and share some light moments with the loved ones. In our family gleeful memories are often interlinked with good food. The jubilant moments are shared with each other over a table laid with delicious homemade food. And post every family meal sharing recipe notes is a ritual we hardly give amiss. Recipes shared by the aunts while relishing the bowl full of dessert are the part of my ancestral treasure. Their recipes are not accurate about the measurement or cooking time, some cooking instructions are missed while dictating, yet the end result is always satisfying. Sometimes, I wonder, maybe it is the years of cooking experience that make their vague recipe draft much more precise than a cookbook recipe.
Mango Shrikhand is an Indian sweet treat made with fresh mango pulp, thick yogurt, flavored with aromatics like saffron, cardamom, and pistachio. Mango Shrikhand or Amrakhand is a popular Maharashtrian delight, served with the main meal during the summers. The sweet and thick pulp of the tropical beauty is pureed to smooth texture then blended with hung curd, which in the native dialect called as “Chakka”. The condensed homemade yogurt is hung in the soft muslin cloth in the kitchen at certain height to drain all the excess whey from the yogurt, what remains behind is the supple, cotton-like chunks of pure white yogurt. During the hours when yogurt is hung, it gradually transforms personality from humble slurpy liquid to soft cheese, which melts in the mouth. The marriage of honeyed mango puree and the sweetened hung curd is in real sense match made in heaven and a pinch of saffron, cardamom strengthens the bond between the two.