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.
‘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.
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
1/2 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.