You shouted back

This little space was born on this day, two years ago; I wrote the first post, and floated it out to sea. It really did feel like that; like a note in a bottle, bobbing off into unknown waves. It might have reached someone, or no one at all. It might have floated with the fish and fronds forever. I didn’t know.

But the note did find you, and you read it, and you shouted back across the seas, and you’re here now, reading this. So, thank you.

When the blog turned one, last year, I didn’t notice. ‘May 26’ didn’t ring any bells, and the date came and passed; no blips on my radar: that’s how good it’s been. You know, how you don’t remember to say you’re having a good time when you’re having a good time? It’s always in the past tense – “I had a good time that day. Or last week. Or last year.” And you don’t notice you’re happy when you’re happy. You only notice Happy isn’t there when you’re sad.

I didn’t notice I was blogging.

And then a sweet person wrote me a sweet note about the blog. She said it “felt like a book, an old, forgotten, battered, comforting book discovered in clutters.” I’ll remember that for a long time. It made me think about this space, and about connections made in the ether. And it made me realise that it’s been two years.

So, thank you for fishing that bottle out of the sea when I threw it in. And thank you for reading the note inside. And for hollering back.

I hope you’ll stay. I’ll plump up the cushions, and cook you something nice.

Blueberry Payesh

‘Payesh’ is a rice pudding, but quite different from its cousins in the West. It’s fragrant with crushed cardamom and bay-leaves, rich with chopped cashew nuts. And it’s often cooked in Bengali homes to celebrate a birthday.
Well, here’s a birthday, I thought. So I made payesh. It’s far removed from the traditional version, and nowhere near its usual colour. But I’ve found that blueberries get along famously with green cardamom and bay-leaves, when stirred slowly into thick, sweetened milk. And D and Chotto-Ma scraped their bowls very clean and asked for seconds. So there you go.

Ingredients

1 cup rice, washed (I found this beautiful, flaked rice at the local store, but use Basmati or Gobindobhog if that’s what you have)
2 litres milk (full-fat will give you a creamier texture, but for a skinnier version, go with semi-skimmed)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups blueberries
2 green cardamom, pounded well with mortar and pestle
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 bay-leaf
1/2 cup cashew nuts, lightly roasted

Boil the milk, and then leave to simmer till it condenses to half its volumn.
Add the rice, cardamom, cinnamon and bay-leaf.
When the rice if cooked, but still holds its shape, add the sugar and the blueberries.
Stir slowly till the rice takes on a creamy texture and the blueberries melt in.
While stirring, add a little milk if you feel it’s getting too tight. Adjust sugar to taste.
When it takes on a creamy, thick consistency, add half the cashew nuts.
Ladle into a serving dish and sprinkle rest of the cashew on top.

14 thoughts on “You shouted back

  1. Happy Happy Birthday! The person who wrote you that note was very wise indeed, it is how it feels when I read your blog… I am a huge fan of rice pudding, and the colour of this one is just beautiful! πŸ™‚

  2. It's simply beautiful. Your writing, your play with the words, presentation, photos. I'm grateful for “fishing” your blog out! Thank you

  3. This is just the beginning isn't it? There's so much more you have to write for Chotto Ma! Here's hoping that there is many, many, many more to come! I love your blog, I love your writing and I love the fact that I know you! Happy Birthday to your blog!
    Saira always eats her payesh with some kind of fresh berry and I think she will love this. Late summer is blueberry picking season(my new found love) and I might borrow this recipe for my blog then.

  4. thanks emma, for your lovely words, always πŸ™‚
    you must try this rice pudding; isn't it lovely to cook colourful food that needs not a drop of supermarket colour?

  5. Sasha, thank YOU – if you've chosen to spend minutes of your day on this blog, and enjoyed it, it makes me happy πŸ™‚

  6. Debjani, thank you πŸ™‚
    And you were right, we would've made smashing neighbours – we love to cook, eat, we both blog, and have two little girls who would've played busy little games. And we know each other, so we know neither of us is an axe-murderer, which is always a good thing.

  7. Happy blogiversary – two years is a great achievement! The Payesh looks delicious – I will have to try it out. I'm really enjoying catching up with your blog… see you around here more in the future. x P.S. Where is your spoon from?

  8. It's good to have you here! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the lovely words.
    The spoon was a thrift shop find – they really do have the nicest things lying around unnoticed!

  9. Happy Blog Birthday my friend πŸ™‚ I know I am glad to find this blog, don't remember when or how. Every time I come here, I start visualizing, like I am with you right there, as you share your thoughts. You are an amazing writer and very creative. And blueberry payesh, huh! That's so creative and a lovely treat to celebrate the day.

  10. Happy birthday to you!

    Am grateful to a friend for sharing the link to your blog some moons ago, since when I've been an avid follower. I love the way you paint with words…

    And how cool, purple rice. Brings out a childish glee in me!

  11. Thanks Kavey, and hugs for such a lovely message. It's always so good to hear you here.

    And you're right about childish glee – the payesh did make a little girl squeal as the blueberries popped on the hob and the purple spilled out πŸ™‚

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