Recently I ate doodh bhat, something I hadn’t eaten in many years. If I remember correctly, the last time I had eaten I was a young boy.
I ate this time fully knowing what I was doing: I was eating by choice. As a child, I used to eat it when my mother forced me to. We – my siblings and I – ate it as a “dessert” after fussing over lunch or dinner, rejecting everything that was offered or eating with a puckered up face.
Doodh bhat is essentially rice with milk and sugar. At the end of our dinner, my mother would offer it to make sure we had enough nutrition: She thought we needed the protein and minerals.
She would pour on my plate a little bit of the milk along with some of the cream skimmed off the surface. Those days, we had buffalo’s milk. I was growing up in Bhilai, in the middle of India, where buffaloes outnumbered cows. I enjoyed the creamy, cold milk poured over rice, all mixed up nicely with a spoonful of granulated sugar. I remember the crunch of grainy sweetness with the creamy coldness of milk. Sometimes, my mother would put gur, or molasses, instead of sugar. Gur tasted just as well.
So many years later, the doodh bhat of my adulthood was comforting and nostalgic. At the end of a hard day, it calmed my nerves and took me back to those childhood years just for a moment.
Dear reader, do you have any such memory?