Sunday, September 02, 2007

Doodh bhat: A childhood "dessert" revisited

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?

2 comments:

RajpaL said...

Certainly do...Angshuman! Living in Calcutta has given me many such memories which even now take me back to those wonderful-wonderful years. One of them incidentally is doodh-bhaat. Although, the main one that brings back memories is a Punjabi thing called 'churi'. My mother (and sometimes father) used to drop a fresh roti (or 2 depending on how hungry I was) broken into small pieces into a bowl of steaming hot desi ghee and sugar and mash it up with hands till it became like a mixture. This was a perfect winter meal and I had it almost every few days and even the thought of it now makes my mouth (& eyes) water for gastronomical (& emotional) reasons. I was in Calcutta 3 years ago and my father made it for me almost every night! That was really something.

I will replace some of your words here - I enjoyed the hot ghee, the tast of roti all mixed up nicely with a spoonful of granulated sugar. I remember the crunch of grainy sweetness, the crispy roti and the fragrant ghee.

Another Punjabi item was having fresh roti with desi ghee + 'Shakkar' (an orangey powdery substance made from sugarcane similar to 'gur' or jaggery). This was also a staple item for me when I was growing up and still warms my heart and memories when I think about it.

As you have so eloquently said "So many years later, the doodh bhat/Churi/Shakkar roti 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."

Thank you for sharing these memories, thoughts and recipes!

Angshuman said...

Hi Rajpal:

Thanks for your comment. Keep reading my blog :-)

Angshuman