I am bored easily. I find it difficult to do one thing for long. And you are most likely to disagree with my notion of long. It is like a chronic disease. I am always looking for something else to do. One advice I get often is "Learn to focus, persevere." I haven't learnt how. I do not think I want to. Life is fun that way. Never knowing what you will do next or not do at all. Tripping slipping, sprinting and strolling through life goaded by impulse alone. Or should I say whim. So it surprises me that I stuck to this blog, which I started exactly a year ago. Yes today is my baby's birthday.
People ask me if it is a real career. If I make money, the more polite ones ask how is it economically viable. I don't make money from my blog. I do not know if I ever will. But the kind of gleeful satisfaction I get nurturing this blog, no salary-paying, incentive-giving job has. Not that I am not worried about the fact that my steadily dwindling bank balance (I am near broke now) will put me in a sticky spot soon! Anyway, the bottom line is I am psyched to celebrate the first anniversary of my blog and I'd like to say cheers to that. Of course, the blog would mean nothing if you do not read it. So thank you very much for visiting my space and encouraging me, just with your presence. Some of you have had the kindest words to say as well, and for that I am so glad.
Ok it is beginning to sound like an award ceremony speech.OK don't frown. OK I'll stop.
Coming to the thing that matters. What's a birthday without a party and what's a party without food. The last few days I have been brainstorming. I really wanted to post something special for you today. I was toying with the idea of baking a birthday cake, but I was not convinced. So I asked my mother. Mothers have answers to every question you could trump up. And this time too she had an answer. She said, forget cake, think in terms of paayesh, Bengali rice pudding.
Why didn't I think about that. I mean, what's a birthday without a bowl of thick, creamy paayesh? Every year on my birthday I wake up to the smell of Ma making paayesh. It is my birthday scent. I mean if I had to describe how a birthday smells, I would describe the smell of paayesh. Not that anyone is crazy enough to ask for such a description. But you do get the point right? That's what matters. Making paayesh on our (my brother's too) birthdays is like a sacred ritual for Ma. It is important she takes a bath and performs the puja before she enters the kitchen to make the paayesh. No one is allowed to touch it before the birthday person has it. And even the birthday person cannot touch it until lunch time. It makes me feel special. My mother struggles to work in the kitchen owing to her health issues and yet no matter how she is feeling, she makes that paayesh each and every birthday. And she makes a fabulous deal out of it. Of course, not just me, but almost every Bengali kid has grown up on the Birthday Paayesh ritual.
I like my paayesh neither runny, nor too thick, and never too sweet. And I do not like too much spice in it. By spice I mean the usual cardamom and bay leaves that go into it. Or I won't have it at all. Anyway, so I decided today's post would be around paayesh. But what twist can I give. Flavoured paayesh is nothing new. So I brainstormed some more, and of course I frowned, nagged and cribbed all the while. And then it struck me and I am mighty proud of what I have made for you today. So I made paayesh alright. But then I pored it into tart shells and baked it in the oven. And then I topped it with some chunky cherry sauce. Voila. Exotic and comforting all at the same time, isn't it. The other day I had this beautiful Mihidana Tart from Banchharam's sweet shop and loved it. That's where I got the idea from. But the cherry sauce just gave the tart another dimension. People at home loved it, I think you will too.
IngredientsFor the tartshell
Short crust dough. I followed Jamie Oliver's Recipe, using only half the measurement mentioned here, to make 6 tarts
For the cherry sauce
Cherries - 200 g
Sugar - 1.5 tbsp
Water- 3 tbsp
Lemon juice - 1 t
Gobindobhog rice - 100g
Full fat milk- 1 litre
Sugar- 2 tbsp
Sweetened condensed milk/ Milkmaid - 2 tbsp
Ghee/clarified butter- 1/2 tsp
Cardamom pods - 2
Short Crust dough
(I have used Jamie Oliver's Recipe, but to make six tarts as I have, use exactly half the measurements mentioned in the recipe)
For cherry sauce
Mix the cherry, sugar and water in a pan and place it on the heat. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer until the cherries are soft. Turn up heat and let it bubble away for another couple of minutes. Add lemon juice, stir well and remove from heat. Cool it and store it in the refrigerator, covered.
Wash the rice, drain and spread it on a kitchen towel or tissue paper to dry off completely.
Once the rice is dry, add ghee and mix well, so that the grains are well laced with ghee.
Bring milk to a boil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the cardamom pods and turn heat down to medium low and reduce the milk to half. Stir often.
Fish out the cardamom pods and add the rice. Let the milk and rice simmer together until rice is almost done. At this point add sugar and stir well. Cook until the paayesh is thicky and creamy.
Add the condensed milk, stir well and remove from heat. Let it come down to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
For the tart
Divide the short crust dough into eight equal parts. Roll them into discs slightly bigger that the tart tins on a flour dusted surface. .
Now line each tart tin with the rolled out dough discs. Work the dough downward into the tin with your fingers rather than pull or stretch it upwards around the edges.
Fill them up with paayesh and pop into a preheated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 25 minutes or until the tart shells are a deep golden brown.
Serve topped with the cherry sauce and some fresh cherries on the side. Make sure the cherry sauce is poured just before eating the tart or the tart will turn soggy.
PS. Do not forget to participate in our Birthday Blast Contest. An awesome prize to be won.