Five days

D was away the whole of last week. Well, five days to be fair. But five days too far gone. In yonder-off Canada; a different continent, across Large Water Body, where people go to sleep when we’re waking up. I know there’s a sea of travelling spouses out there, but thankfully they’re not mine. I feel limbless without D to wrestle and hug and wake up to.

It was also Chotto-ma’s first stretch without Ba. She missed him so much that she finally decided to pretend he was in the bathroom. She also wrote him notes, drew him messages and licked his face on skype.

She wrote me a note too, and gave it to me (in an envelope) right after D left for the airport.

Yes, we can make a big soppy brouhaha about five days, which in Chotto-ma’s words ‘felt like sixty-five days.’ To hell with moderation, to hell with anti-mush. When he walked in through the door on Saturday morning, we were on him like cling-film on leftovers.

So how did we spend those ‘sixty-five days’? Well, apart from waiting for D to come back, we:

Overfed the ducks in the river.

Played dominoes.

Played hooky from school to watch Kung Fu Panda whilst eating dumplings.

Read books – she hers, I mine.

Had long conversations about life (it’s the coolest thing; the things Chotto-ma and I talk about now, cuddled up on the sofa with a blanket on our legs.)

Ate dark red juicy plums.

Brought in spring.

Danced to Fleetwood Mac.

Baked D a Crème Caramel.

Crème Caramel

In India, a crème caramel is called ‘pudding’. A pudding is a crème caramel. So, when we first moved to England that’s what I expected everyone to agree to. Pudding = crème caramel. But no. Here, pudding = dessert. Everything is a pudding: a sponge cake, a cheesecake, ice-cream with jelly,  fruits with custard. Everything. This seismic food-shift, this pudding-shock, took more time to get used to than the British weather.

Bubulma, D’s mother, was known (far and wide) for her perfect puddings; her crème caramels were light, smooth. With firm feet and a jiggly hip. But the only time I ever tried making one: Disaster. That was years ago; my crème caramel collapsed like a Victorian lady, and no amount of sniffing salt could revive it.

This time, I was determined to do better. Not just I, but Chotto-ma and I. Chotto-ma, my little egg beater. My crème caramel conspirator.

And we did better than better.


4 eggs
4 cups of thickened milk (to thicken: gently boil 8-9 cups of milk till halved)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4th cup sugar (I don’t like my puddings too sweet, so add more if you like)
4 tbs sugar (for the caramel)
Knob of butter

Heat oven to 150 degrees.
Beat the eggs well with the sugar.
Sieve the thickened milk, and mix it into the eggs. Add the vanilla extract.
Butter the sides of a round baking dish (mine was about 23 cm in diameter), and keep ready.
In a small pan, add about 1/2 cup water and the 3 tbs of sugar and put it on the heat. As the water evaporates, the sugar will start of caramelise. When is a lovely deep amber, but before it burns, tip the caramel into the baking dish. Swirl the dish so the caramel spreads and coats the bottom.
The caramel will soon cool and set. When it does, pour in the milk-egg mix.
Slip it into the lower shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes (when you slide it out, there should be a firm jiggle, but not a sloppy jiggle in the middle of the pudding).
Take it out, let it cool and put in into the refrigerator overnight.
Next day, hold a serving plate on top of the dish and turn it upside down. The pudding should plop down, along with the lovely, caramel-y syrup.



30 thoughts on “Five days

  1. First time on your blog…
    My mom also makes “pudding” like this!!! Only she would steam it in the pressure cooker. I love how it plonks out of the steel tiffin box on to the serving platter with dark caramel on top. I think its called 'Flan” in the US… though not sure… This post certainly brought back memories…. I loved your writing too… will come back for sure…


  2. Progna, I bemoaned the lack of a steel tiffin box while making this. It's an essential part of the Pudding experience! My Ma still makes it in the pressure-cooker, oven be damned.
    Look forward to having you back xx

  3. Ah.. that limbless feeling! LD and I know it too well 🙂
    And what a lovely post Pia! You must seriously consider writing a book, A book which I can hold in my hand, touch the words and put it under my pillow or on my chest when I sleep only to dream about your beautiful stories.
    Beautiful… Just beautiful!

  4. you stories get me so emotional Pia. Big hug, you brave people:-)

    Design a quirky recipe card for yourself no?

    the caramel looks so luscious. Its my absolute favorite in desserts.

  5. Haha! Brave people, indeed. We're wimps :p
    A recipe card – hmm, something to think about, Anita. I remember yours; very cool.
    (And it's my absolute favourite too. If there's a soul-dessert, this is mine)

  6. Ok, let me count the things I loved about this post – the milk jug, the notes (precious handwriting), the serving plates (I think I've mentioned my love for that blue and white plate before), the caramel custard (as we call it at home) and Chotto- ma's baby hands. I love how you write and this was so beautifully written (the way most things that are close to the heart, tend to be!).

  7. I love your love-list 🙂
    And Caramel Custard! Of course, how did I not remember it's also called that?
    Well, a 'pudding by any other name…'
    Thanks, Roxana 🙂

  8. This post actually made my eyes go moist. I cannot explain why, but first I laughed and then…imagining the people I miss being in the bathroom (I guess they are helping eachother holding ladders and things to skrew in a lightbulb) Thank you for bringing me that image and the tears that go with it

  9. Afra, thank you for such kind words. Yes, screwing a lightbulb – when your loved ones are far, far away, there's such comfort in imagining them doing mundane little chores.

  10. This creme caramel looks divine. I also go crazy when my husband travels for work – he heads off to China way too much for my liking. Maybe next time I'll make him this dessert when he comes home!

  11. Piya, i love your blog so beautifully written and i can absolutely relate to you, my hubby has been away working in US since last saturday and not back till hopefully tomorrow…and ah as you said missing him tons both little one (five and of course as you say not to forget the half year old little baby Z). I love that you are instilling such a love for books in her, baby Z loves books too and though we havent kept her away from the touchscreen we do limit her to 10mins a day 🙂 which i thought was a fair compromise but like you no video games at all we dont own any…much better to be out in the open air and we too with her 🙂

  12. A kindred spirit then, Fatima. Yes, so much better to be out and about – even though the weather here tries its best to keep you indoors a lot of the time 🙂
    It's lovely to have you here, Fatima. I hope hubby is back home to you and the little ones.

  13. THe most perfect pudding. Bravo!
    My father in law makes these and I guess I have never tried hard enough to learn his method but now you've inspired me to call him up and ask him again for a recipe.

  14. Your father-in-law and my mother-in-law have pudding in common, then 🙂
    Yes, try his recipe…it's a good thing to pass down generations!

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