Monday, December 26, 2011

Of Just Desserts and Going Bananas

My first memories of eating out date from the time I was seven. I was visiting my parents in the US and I know we ate out more often than we did in India, where I don’t ever remember being taken to a restaurant except when we went to Madras as it was then known to see off parents and aunts and uncles to the US and stayed in hotels. (My favourite then was a green pea soup at a hotel that is still around and popular.) In the US, some of the places we ate out at were Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s. I tried spaghetti and meatballs. I tasted pizzas, French fries and other legendary junk food I don’t remember now.

Later we went on an extended road trip of both the US and Europe. I remember being not too fond of the new food. (Could that really have been me?) I was always looking for rice and other familiar food. The one time my parents did locate some rice dish, in some place we had halted for lunch in FRG, as West Germany was known then, it was ice-cold and strange and I threw a tantrum. My father was annoyed, my mother more patient – I’m sure one of those two poor souls downed it so as not to waste resources. (I also made them buy me rolls of coloured wool in some other country though neither they nor I had the faintest idea of what I would do with it, despite my father protesting we were “on a budget” and we couldn’t afford to waste money.)

During that time, I remember, my father would always ask me, “Do you need help?” and lean over and relieve me of a bit of whatever was sitting on my plate. That joke continued throughout the trip and after. I didn’t think it was a big loss unless I liked the food.

It just struck me that the tables have now turned – whenever I visit my parents, my father opens the fridge to find that his nightly dessert of cream, curds (yoghurt) and bananas is halved or wiped out. A fortnight ago, after it happened a couple of times, he factored me into the scheme of things and started adding one more banana and some more cream and curds.

My father seems to have discovered a way to add more taste – and where taste lies, calories follow – to this nightcap. This visit, he told me that the inside of a kajjikai (karanji) crumbled over the curds-banana concoction is a great addition. It seemed interesting, but where would I find kajjikai with the same filling here? As I was mulling the possibilities, the brain in me ticked off the idiot in me (the morning diet of soaked almonds must be working) and told me I didn’t have to go searching for a kajjikai, deconstruct it, extract the filling, crush it and sprinkle it on the dessert. I could simply make the filling myself.

The pictures that you see are my father's, photographed at my request, but in the interests of his diet, I didn't ask him to add the topping, so there is no picture of that.

Banana: 2, sliced (I prefer the chakkarakeli variety, seen in picture above, the second and third from left)
Cream from the top of curds: 2-3 tbsp

Note the layer of cream on top - this is home-made curds/yoghurt.

Dessicated coconut: 1 tbsp
Semolina/rava/sooji: 1/8 cup
Sugar: 1/8 cup
Cardamom powder: A smidgeon
Chopped cashew: 1 tsp
Raisin: 1 tsp
Ghee: 1 tsp
In a pan, heat the ghee and toast the coconut in it on medium flame for a few minutes. Remove, keep aside.
In the same pan, add another ½ tsp ghee and roast the semolina 7-8 minutes.
Powder sugar, mix with the sooji, coconut, cashew, raisin and cardamom powder.

To assemble: Put the sliced banana in a bowl and top with the cream. Mix lightly. Sprinkle with topping.