I set out to make Rasgulla the other day. Actually, I didn’t ‘set out’ to. When the milk was boiled in the morning, it started to curdle, so I quickly threw in a dash of vinegar to give the milk some decency in its coming undone. I have made Rasgulla before, so I thought, 'Well, we shall put to good use this extra-creamy dairy-fresh curdled buffalo milk.' I hung the curd in a seere batte (cheesecloth) and forgot all about it.
Later that day, when I was in the middle of procrastinating while trying to write, in a post-lunch daze, looking for another excuse to get up, I gleefully remembered about the hanging curd.
I dashed to the kitchen and started mashing the paneer. I decided to make a jaggery Rasgulla. For two years now, I have been anti-sugar, actively reducing its intake, in keeping with the theme of upward mobility.
I added over a cup of jaggery into six cups of water, flavoured it with some crushed cardamon and placed the big pot on a medium flame. Once the paneer was mashed for around 8-10 mintues, I made small Rasgulla balls and got them ready to be dunked into boiling jaggery water. Everything was set. It felt good, even if the tension in the air was slightly high due to the possibility of it all going wrong.
I dropped the Rasgulla balls gently into the boiling water, one by one. They all looked happy.
YouTube can be annoying in that it gives you so many options to make one dish. It wants you to keep watching those recipes more than it wants you to make them. After watching many videos, I had decided to mix and match and do my own thing.
This was probably a bad decision.
One of the videos said that the boiling liquid had to be covered. So I did that. After three minutes, when I peeked into the pot to check if the Rasgullas were really happy, they had betrayed me and disintegrated into smithereens. A few of them stayed put, shivering, their outer skin completely frayed, waiting to let me down while I watched them. So I did the honours myself and mashed them.
At this point—almost an hour in and not knowing what to do next—I took a breather and watched the contents of the cauldron calm down from being a bubbling mess. Then, with renewed energy, I strained this mix. I was not willing to waste an entire cup of jaggery. I thought I could make a brown roux from the jaggery water and turn it into some sort of a sweet.
So, I started toasting some whole wheat flour in another pot. When the wheat turned aromatic and had browned to my liking, I poured in the jaggery water little by little as it sputtered and splattered. I kept mixing it. Did it form lumps? Of course it did because—like an idiot—I forgot that a roux is ‘equal quantity fat and flour’ and I hadn't added any oil or ghee. So it was not a roux. I don't know what it was.
But, somehow, since I was mixing the contents vigorously, the lumps started to dissolve as I poured in all the jaggery water. It got to a nice consistency that I liked.
I realised I was making Kheer (pudding).
I then heated a separate vessel, melted some ghee and threw in some cashew nuts, almonds, raisins and poppy seeds and toasted them till their flavours were released. Once they smelt like Diwali, I poured this ‘tadka’ (tempering) into the Kheer. I mixed the golden liquid and tasted a spoonful. It was delicious.
I think I had made some sort of a godi paaisa (wheat pudding) without ever having eaten it.
This was a nice lesson in pivoting; I could use more of it... and of paaisa.