Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kheer Komola

The new year is upon us. A whole 365 days filled with opportunities. And given the blogosphere trend, this post should be about resolutions and hope. But I am perennially optimistic and I really don't do resolutions. If I did I would have long ago vacated my warm couch, and walked out battling the real world. Instead I choose happily to sink further into my warm spot, snuggle my dog and monster munchkin closer and go tap tap on my browser.
Its not that I don't like interacting with the physical world. It is jus that I am plain lazy! I remember when my friends raved about the benefits of retail therapy, all I could think was why anyone would abandon their pajamas and blanket to battle crowds and look at racks and racks of the same boring stuff!
Then online shopping came along and my brain went Aah! This makes more sense. So there I was indulging in some post festive, end of reason sales therapy when I chanced upon Santrawale. They sell, well, oranges! Not just any oranges though. Organic, sustainable, sourced from farm oranges. They had me at Organic! So tappity tap and I had two dozen juicy Nagpur oranges on their way. 
Now if you've browsed my previous orange post you will know that I was suddenly struck with the question again. What the heck do I do with all those oranges. The marmalade batch was still going strong so that option was out. Wine was option two. But that was really a long term project. 
The new year demanded a new approach. (There I've done my bit of following blog trends) I needed something different. Something unexpected. Out came the journals and cookbooks. 
Kheer Komola popped up twice. Milk and Oranges? Sounds like a recipe for disaster right? And yet there were people out there enticing me to give it a swing. It was too cold for a souffle, but a dessert was definitely on my mind. Did I dare to try? 
It wouldn't be my first attempt at Orange Kheer, to be honest. A long time ago I had ignored mum's words of wisdom and experimented for a dinner party I was hosting. The recipe had been tried and tested by Good Housekeeping so what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turned out! Instead of the refreshing, creamy dessert I ended up with a bowlful of dense gloop with a bitter aftertaste. To their credit, my guests actually ate their dessert and assured me it wasn't that bad. That disaster still loomed large in my food memories. And I do have this annoying need to conquer all peaks. So I geared up for round two of Kheer Komola challenge.
This time I was better prepared. I turned to friend Google and read every variation I could find. I said a short prayer. Brushed aside mum's skepticism and dad's ribbing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Ignoring the monster munchkin's calls I concentrated completely on my kheer karma. And it paid off! I was finally rewarded with a creamy yet light dessert that brought with it the promise of a refreshing spring with its delicate citrus touch. (Yes I can poetically romance food.) This was Kheer Komola the way I had imagined it. And so you can put away your search results. Go on and benefit from my Experiments with Oranges! And be prepared for friends and folk to be wowed by your brave and unusual dessert masterstroke.

Milk                              2 litres
Oranges                         7
Sugar                             10 tablespoon
Green Cardamoms         5 or 6
Saffron                           a few strands

Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed pan. Once it boils, reduce the flame to the lowest and let it simmer. Soak the saffron stands in a tablespoon of the warm milk and keep aside. In the meantime, separate the segments of the oranges. Carefully, split the segment and discard the thin outer membrane. The white membrane is what caused the bitterness in my previous attempt. Remove all seeds as well, taking care to preserve only the pulp and juices of the oranges. It is a monotonous and exacting task, but then that's what makes this kheer so special. It is actually a labour of love! Powder the cardamoms, and don't forget to stir the milk every once in a while, scraping the bottom to ensure it doesn't stick and burn. Once the milk has reduced to less than half the quantity, blushing with a creamy hue, stir in the sugar, cardamom powder and the saffron soaked in milk. Let it simmer for another five minutes and then turn off the heat. Let the milk cool to lukewarm and then gently stir in the orange pulp. Allow the milk to be infused with the citrusy goodness overnight or for atleast four hours, If you are in warmer climes, serve this chilled and topped with pistachios. If like me you are freezing and need a reminder of the spring to come, serve the kheer at room temperature. And if like my father you want everything piping hot, just zap a bowlful in the microwave for 30 seconds. Either way, you won't be disappointed.