Madness…and frozen yogurt

offer letter

Moving.

This has now officially (and permanently) become my status.

I should really rename this blog Messy Brainwaves That Keep Moving.

Its not really enough that I left home at 18 years of age to attend graduate school in Baroda, shuttling between that sleepy city and my hometown. Five years on, it wasn’t enough when, looking for work with a decent enough pay to allow weekend eat-outs and shopping, I trudged to Mumbai dragging my tired bags along.

Now, Nottingham is standing on the edge of the parapet yelling for me. The offer letter has arrived for my post-graduation degree and I’m currently extremely busy freaking out.

Part of me is nervous out off my existence, because I don’t know what to expect. Part of me is sad, because I’m leaving everything I know and love for a whole year at least. Part of me is constantly confused and on the edge with handling formalities and arrangements. And the final part is just plain excited at the prospect of poking my head through to Europe!

Where will I stay? Its already late. The University halls are all booked. I have no place to stay. I don’t know when I’ll get there considering the fact that I haven’t booked anything that resembles an air ticket. The initial offer letter had the wrong subject on it. The new one hasn’t been dispatched yet. I haven’t registered with the University, mostly because I have to be present IN PERSON to register myself as a student. I don’t have any syllabus or class details. I still have to pack. I still have to go grab myself a new laptop. I’m in a mess and technically homeless. I’ve lived in three different cities since mid 2008 and now I would have to move my arse (see how English I’ve become already) off to a whole other country. And all I’m concerned about is how high a cloud I would be on, eating my way through it!

I’ve already started on a list. My query on black puds on Chow has met with passionate responses from UK’s proud patriots.

And all this even while I’m still nine and half hours of flight time away from my destination. The amount of sleep I lost over my broken heart and Thesis is nothing compared to the amount of sleep I’m losing now.

Every fear and piece of stress has now blended themselves together with the fact that my brother is also on the verge of flying off to Georgia, USA for his pilot’s license. People around the house keep tripping over boxy luggage, yells over the phone on international calls, trying very hard to hold decent conversations with the Brits, lists are growing longer by the minute, the VISA people might as well have put up permanent residence in our apartment, piles of winter clothes dot every room.

Out of all the madness, I will try hard to chill with frozen yogurt.

Brown Butter Caramel Ice-Cream

I need frozen yogurt. I would settle for a rich and creamy ice cream any day, if it didn’t come with a side of guilt. Fro-yo on the other hand, goes easy on me. And my skinny jeans, which is a good thing considering the fact that I bought two pairs of those yesterday.

And then I go and add copious amounts of butter and sugar to natural homemade yogurt. Homemade, because its always been that way. Me, my mother before me and my grandmother before her — we always, always, (always) have an over-sized bowl of curd resting overnight under a damp cloth, quite calmly at one dark corner of our kitchen counters.

The brown butter was a first for me, but thanks to Techamuanvivit, that problem was dealt with. At this point, I should remind my readers that I’m a certified harbinger of burnt caramel, burnt to the point of no return. But I’m doing better nowadays, really.

ice cream

Brown Butter Caramel Frozen Yogurt
Ingredients:
  • Half a cup of unsalted butter
  • Two cups of Greek yogurt (of if you prefer, homemade yogurt, strained through two layers of cheesecloth and hung for two hours)
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoons of water
  • A pinch of salt

How-to:

  • Heat a pan and add the butter. Cook on low heat (no stirring please) till the butter melts. It will bubble up seriously as it cooks. Shake and swirl a few times to prevent hot spots. Cook till it turns a golden brown…any further and you’ll end up burning it. Brown butter needs you to have a sharp eye.
  • Pour it out into a cool glass bowl.
  • Put the pan back on heat and add the sugar with the water. Turn up the heat and swirl the sugar around (stirring would only make the sugar crystallize again). Cook till the caramel takes up a slightly thick consistency.
  • Stir the caramel slowly into the butter and let the mixture cool for 3-5 minutes before folding it into the yogurt (in a separate bowl) along with a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture into a shallow freeze-proof box with a cover and freeze for 4 hours.
  • After four hours, break up the ice crystals with a fork and blitz them in a blender till smooth. Pour back into the container and freeze for another 4 hours.
  • Scoop, dunk and nurse a big bowl of it as soon as you’re ready…..or crazy.

My First Time

…making ice cream, that is.

mango_ice_cream

Ok, that’s a lie.

I did contribute to a luscious white chocolate and cinnamon ice-cream at my friend Aditya’s place about a year back. I was responsible for the custard and he did all the physical work required. It was an achievement where I was concerned, since back then, the only other thing I could make apart from custard, was coffee. The credit for how and where I learned to make custard, goes to my mother, who would make me accompany her in making caramel and fruit custards for dessert whenever we had special guests over. My job in all that custard-making was to pour out the liquids into individual serving bowls and spoon in sauce over the caramels.

But I watched and learned. And it has finally paid off.

I’m a little late actually with my current tub of ice-cream, since summer’s been long gone here. But mangoes are still flecking the market and we have kilos of it stuffed into the refrigerator.

Indians love their mangoes…no conditions, no doubts and no species spared. If we’re not making lassi or aamras, we’re either making kulfi or just contentedly sucking the stone-seed dry on warm, humid afternoons. And then we have some more after dinner.

Before this, I had been satisfied with the humble espresso slushy, that I had taken so much pain in whipping (breaking up the ice crystals, they call it) with all my physical strength. It did turn out slightly crunchy…but only slightly, mind you.

This time taking no chance, I used a blender.

mango_ice_cream

Mango-Cinnamon Ice-cream

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 2 mangoes, stone removed

How-to:

  • Heat 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 cup milk and half the sugar in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer till the mixture is almost ready to boil off. Take the mixture off heat and let it stand for a minute.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar till the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the cream mixture into the egg mixture slowly stirring constantly so the eggs don’t scramble.
  • After fully incorporated, strain the mixture back into the pan and put on medium heat. Keep stirring firmly till the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Cool the custard completely before adding in the cinnamon powder and mango puree. Mix thoroughly over an ice bath.
  • Pour the mixture in a freeze-proof container (preferably air-tight) and freeze for about two hours.
  • After two hours, take out the container and either whip the mango custard thoroughly with a fork to break up the ice crystals or just blitz the entire thing for a minute in the blender. Pop the slushy mixture back into the freezer. Blitz once again after an interval of two hours. After the second blitz the mixture would require 2-3 hours to reach the correct consistency. Alternately of course, if you’re one of the lucky ones with an ice-cream machine (one of those that I’m still saving up for), freeze the mixture according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Let the ice-cream stand for sometime before serving, if it hardens up too much.

ice_cream

mango_ice_cream

Beating the Heat

With kalboishakhi and a luscious Espresso Slushy.

Kolkata has always seen sweaty, sunny hot summers. This year was much too hot for anybody to handle though. Going out  meant groaning and complaining while getting dressed. I barely left the house (on my four-day trip home), except for the ocassional dinner invitations.

Luckily enough, the kalboishakhi hit us just one day before my flight back to Mumbai!

And the city cooled down in ten minutes flat. Ten minutes.

Kalboishakhi is technically nor’westers, the wind that ushers in monsoon in India.

Its quick, super-destructive, cools like a chilly blizzard and blows with a vengeance.

Needless to say, we welcome it like an old friend really. The storm had almost become just a memory, considering the fact that I hadn’t experienced it in all the five years of staying away from home. This year the memory was refreshed! Of my Mother and the maid running around the penthouse trying to get to all the French windows in time, before the violent wind knocked the trinkets off their shelves and the paintings off the walls! Of my Dad chasing flyaway newspapers and of me and my brother standing in the balcony with our eyes closed (the dust blinds you) and arms wide-stretched hoping we’d get blown away!

The idea of getting blown away has always been rib-tickling!

This year, instead of doing a routine stand in the balcony I ran around along with my Mother, bolting the windows…

One glance through the window told me that Monsoon had arrived.

A couple of days prior to the storm, the sweltering heat literally forced me to bring out the coffee grinder and a handful of old coffee beans to whip up a slushy. The old beans, though old, did a fine job instead of instant or regular coffee powder. I could have gone for ice-cream I know, but I’m still one of the unfortunate ones who’re still confused about which ice-cream maker to buy (I’ve been saving up, by the way). Any suggestions???

Anyway, didn’t feel like undertaking heavy physical work beating up ice-crystals, so I let the old processor do my dirty job.

Ingredients:

– 2 tablespoons of coffee beans, ground to granules…or espresso mix or instant coffee powder does just as well!

– Half a cup of sugar

– One and a half cups of milk

– 1 tablespoon of cornstarch

How-To:

– Dissolve the cornstarch in half a cup of cold milk avoiding lumps and set aside for a couple of minutes.

– Add to the rest of the milk (1 cup). Add sugar and simmer on low heat, till the sugar dissolves.

– Take 1 tablespoon of the warm sweetened milk and add to the coffee powder in a cup and beat vigorously, till the mixture turns light brown in color and becomes creamy. This step takes a sincere amount of hard work and makes the slushy pop wth flavor.

– Add this to the heating milk and stir till the custard thickens and is able to coat the back of a spoon without dripping off.

– Take it off the heat and cool in an ice-bath for 10-15 minutes.

– Pour in a shallow freeze proof container and freeze for an hour or till the edges are frozen and icy.

– At this point if you churn this mixture in an ice-cream machine, you would get…well, uh, ice-cream…so go ahead and do it!

– Or you could churn it in the mixer or food processor. Pour it back into the shallow container and freeze for 2-3 hours and you’re done.

– Serve in a tall glass topped with softly whipped creamand hot chocolate!

(I, personally am off cream and chocolate for a little while, so apologies for the extremely boring photograph…)