Friday, February 25, 2011

Burnt milk: Stink or flavor?

I burnt something the other day in the kitchen. My family was away in Kolkata, and I was working at my computer, all by myself. I was engrossed in my work when I smelled something smoky and pungent. I realized I had put on the gas stove a pan of milk and forgotten all about it.

I ran to the kitchen. By that time, much of the milk had overflowed, bathing the burner. I regretted my mistake and filled with the burden of cleaning up the mess. After I stood there for a moment, though, I smelled something more pleasant than the bitterness of a silly error. I smelled something smoky, but nostalgic, reminiscent of my mother's fondness for something -- the flavor of half-burned and caramelized milk.

As I took off the pan of milk from the stove, I inhaled deeply. I smelled "kheer," or evaporated, half-caramelized milk. I could eat the remaining milk in the pan with roti.

Putting my regret behind me, I recalled my mother's liking for burnt milk. She had always admitted with embarrassment her weakness for the flavor, a singular fondness for half-burnt milk that she would scrape with a serving spoon to eat.

She now lives in Kolkata, about 2,000 miles from my home in Mumbai; she is now sick and old in an equally old house in the heart of an older city. I remembered her. And I remembered something -- my own fondness for a sweet, a dessert that is almost the same as burnt milk. I remembered "pora pithe" -- a sweet famous in the state of Orissa. That is similar to creme brulee, too!

I love it. I have begun loving burnt milk! What about you, dear reader?

7 comments:

Three-Cookies said...

Did you add sugar? I have never tried burnt milk though something similar, dulce de leche, is really really delicious. Dulce de leche is not burnt but cooked for a long time.

Angshuman said...

Three-Cookies, I did add sugar after the mess-up -- I stirred some while the milk was still hot, off the stove.

Thanks for posting comment. I browsed your blog, too.

Angshuman

Anonymous said...

Well the very thought of burnt milk brings back memories of 'pora cha' or tea made with burnt milk. There are still many people in suburban bengal who swears by its taste. I don't know if you knew this, but I felt like sharing this information.

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patrizia said...

I have burnt milk before and I love the smell and taste of it, especially in the morning. Noweverymorning when I wake up, I look forward to burnt milk. It's so sweet!

Rishabh said...

I Burnt milk right now. I too was engrossed in my computer playing games -_-. But i guess i have burnt it way too much, The milk which could escape did escape but the rest got burnt to black tar n the utensil also doesn't look good. I feel like a careless fool now. Wish i can travel back in time and reverse it!

Anonymous said...

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