It was an evening when my heart ruled over my head. There was a buffet waiting in the restaurant but I stubbornly decided to go out of the hotel, find a store and buy myself a snack. It was too early for dinner, but I could do with a snack.
The hotel in which I was staying shared space with several blocks of apartments, and there was a store somewhere amidst all those apartments. I took the long walk over to the other side, located the store and bought myself two packets of chips and a bar of dark chocolate with almonds.
I didn't wait to get back to my room. I opened one pack of chips and tried them - not a fan of assembly-line chips, I rarely buy them, but this was not bad, I thought, reflecting on the taste and detecting a hint of clove! It was only a 35 gm pack, so most of it was gone by the time I reached my room. I am fond of hotel rooms - I love the fact that they are 'housekept', unlike my own house, and I try to leave them in as pristine a state as I find them. I tried to enjoy the room, sitting in the chairs, reading at the table, watching the TV, and sinking into the big bed underneath a cool blanket (it should be a warm blanket but the air-conditioning keeps it cool, even after you turn off the AC).
Two meals of conference food were bad, and though I tried to wriggle out of one, given that it was laid out in the open for humans, mosquitoes and other flies to flock to it, my gracious hosts didn't let me go back to my hotel hungry, shooing off the caterers who advanced every minute to pack up. So I had to eat something there and after trying a few bits here and there, managed to down some rice and dal and escaped to the sanctuary of my hotel room. The irritation of not having had a fulfilling meal went to my head and I reached for the chocolate, dreaming of the breakfast buffet ...
Second day of conference and I had planned to go out to lunch with my friend, but a text message from the powers that be put paid to that plan - I had to call Friend and tell her to have her lunch, I'd call her when I was leaving ... the silver lining to the disappointment was that I got to eat a little bit of the double-ka-meetha that was being served.
Rich, moist and spongy. It must have haunted me, because back home the next day, I went shopping for a loaf of bread and proceeded to make it as per a recipe in Pratibha Karan's 'Hyderabadi Cuisine'. I made one change - instead of the rose water she mentions in the recipe, I used orange flower water because I have a full bottle of it and haven't used it yet since I acquired it two years ago. I didn't use the almonds, just a packet of cashews. And oh, I also didn't stick to her direction to use 2/3rds of a cup of ghee. I used less.
Or probably more. Because I didn't measure it, used it in tablespoons.
So here's what you do. Take 10 slices of bread, cut off the crusts. (What do you do with them? Dump them if you're not environmentally-friendly, dry them and crumb them if you are, or glaze them and lattice the pudding with them later. Glaze them how? I don't know, I just assume it can be done.)
Fry the de-crusted slices in tablespoons of ghee till they are golden brown both sides.
Meanwhile, to 500 ml of boiled milk, add 200 ml of cream and reduce to half, stirring now and then, in simmer mode right through.
Make sugar syrup with 1 cup of sugar and half a cup of water.
Put the fried bread in a greased baking dish. Pour the milk-cream reduction over the bread, and the sugar syrup as well. Sprinkle with saffron and cashew nuts.
Bake in a pre-heated oven - no temperature was specified so I put it somewhere between 130 and 180 C, fancying that I remembered some baking instruction that heavy cake batters needed lower temperatures. Whether I remembered right or not, it was a good thing to do because the milk reduction took its time to reduce further and everything got brown and toasty, cashew nuts included, without getting burnt.
Eat it up, share it, throw it out - fast - it's extremely heavy and can clog arteries and everything else that can be clogged. It's that delicious!
Dessert Bread Vegetarian Humour Hyderabadi