In India it is a default blessing that many of us have had or still have grandparents around us. Most probably your grandmother cooked a dish which is one of your favourites. Isn’t it? Well if you are cherishing those memories with your granny then you had a blessed childhood. I don’t know why it is so that 10 different people cooking the same one dish always end up getting different results even after following exact same recipe and procedure. For me it was the Rice Kheer made by my granny. The Kheer that no longer tasted the same, especially when it was cooked by someone else.
Yes today’s blog is a personal one. It is based on true incidents that are based on rice kheer made by my grandmother. The first sweet I remember which I liked from the sweet shop was Mahim Halwa. The first sweet that was homemade and which I like was rice kheer. Kheer in India is pretty staple. Easy to make, easy to digest and fulfilling. So my mom’s mom had this recipe of hers which is yet to be decoded. A recipe that I just can’t forget.
When it started?
I certainly can’t remember the exact year or date, and I am bad at calculations. So I would just say that I started loving the rice kheer right from my playschool days. My mother was a working professional and so while she went for work, she used to drop me at my grandparents’ place. This was the part which I hated the most. I know that I created a scene every day while departing from my mom.
My grandfather used to receive me on the bus stop and then take me home. This was like a routine, when I used to create havoc at that bus stop. Perhaps it was my charm that in spite of doing these things, the bus conductor uncle always waited patiently for me to be transferred to my grandpa. Now once the transaction was done, I used to feel very sad. Eventually I learnt that acceptance is the key.
So I figured out and made myself understand that even though it is tough to leave mom every morning, but my granny used to make some delicious things for me and grandpa used to take me with him for walks in the parks and the market. The playschool timings were not long and hence I had so much time. Somewhere around this phase of life I remember eating the rice kheer that my granny made. Since, then and till the date I am just not over it.
She used to make the rice kheer frequently as I was pretty vocal about my liking towards the kheer. So this kheer was my only motivation to stay away from my mom. Perhaps it was my first exposure towards emotional eating at an early age. Whatever it was, I just loved my granny’s rice kheer. It was just pure bliss.
Was it that fantastic?
From a neutral perspective it might not be that fantastic or extravagant. But you are reading a blog from the person who cherishes his first belongings. So personally the answer is “Yes”. It was not just fantastic but outstanding. Or else what explains my craziness of eating almost 4-5 bowls at a time. By bowls I am not referring mini bowls here, I am referring a bowl with the capacity of 250 ml.
Now when I look back and think of it, I really wonder how I managed to stuff that delicious rice kheer in that little tummy. I know that on the days when granny made kheer for me, I wouldn’t eat anything else. The kheer was my starter, main course and dessert. You know what makes it special, I never got bored of eating that kheer. Once I turned 5, we moved to Rajasthan and now the longing started. It was not often that we came to Mumbai, but whenever we came I used to visit granny and she fondly made the rice kheer for me.
While being away from my granny and her kheer, the next best version of that kheer was made by my mom. Though from a neutral perspective it was simply amazing, as it had all the ingredients in extravagant quantities, huge portions of servings, but for a kheer connoisseur like me it was the kheer that no longer tasted the same. I was a kid and I was well equipped at ignoring the difference, but as I grew up I started thinking over it. And once such thought has made me write this blog.
The Recipe of the kheer that no longer tasted the same
Even if I give you the recipe and exact protocol then too nobody can come closer to my granny’s recipe. It were the most basic of ingredients that she used. Soaked rice, jaggery, milk, cardamom pods, turmeric, salt, water and shaved coconut crush. She used dry-fruits like cashew and raisins only occasionally. She used to make the kheer in record time. When I try to make a kheer it takes me more than 1 hour to finish it.
From soaking the rice to adding the pinch of salt, her way of working out was just too good. As a kid, I regret that I didn’t notice how she cooked it. So I really do not know the exact recipe. I just know the ingredients and the process which is like a general knowledge for any Kokani guy. My mom knows the exact recipe but her rice kheer tastes way different that my granny’s version. Maybe my granny added a secret ingredient that nobody could identify or decode.
She poured in lots of love. Yes, she loved me like anything. It is said that for a women, her daughter’s kid is much dearer. I am not sure if this is categorized under biasedness, but there is underlying love too. Love is neither right nor wrong, it is just love. My granny loved all her grandchildren but with me it was special. Maybe I asked her to cook that kheer which gave her joy. So she used to pour in lots of love that made the kheer super delicious and comforting. I used to gulp down bowls of the kheer in no time.
If you think that she was the fastest to make the kheer then I was the fastest in finishing it off. I used to stop only after I could see that a very little was left. My granny taught me so much of discipline but in this case she made an exception and allowed me the gluttony.
Why I say that the kheer no longer tasted the same?
The kheer no longer tasted the same, because my granny left this world in 2013 to be at a place way more beautiful than this. Just a year before she passed away, she made the kheer for me. Which I clearly remembering eating 4 times bowl after bowl. You know what startles me! I clearly remember the kheer that she made for me in my childhood and the kheer that she made me for that last time, both were exact the same in taste. A simple kheer was the testament of her love towards me. A love as constant as the taste of that kheer.
She was not the strongest person I knew, she was ill for the major part of her life. Yet she managed to make that kheer for me each time I demanded and requested. A kheer that was not rich with lots of milk. A kheer which was not royal with lots of dry fruits. A kheer which was not aromatic with lots of condiments. A kheer which wasn’t sweet as a dessert is supposed to be. Yet that kheer is the thing I still long for.
I kept seeking that love in every rice kheer I had, but couldn’t find that. My mom kept trying hard and she still tries till date to make a kheer as good as my granny. She asks me each time “Nini saarkhi zaali aahe ka?” It means, ‘is it as good as my Granny?’ To which I very half-heartedly reply “No”. I know the efforts and I do appreciate them, but the taste that lingers in my mouth and transpires in my heart is of the kheer that my granny made.
My mom tried putting in more milk, more dry-fruits, and so on, but each time it tasted different. Good for everyone who haven’t tasted my granny’s kheer, but for me it is simply not what I am looking for. This is why I say that the Kheer no longer tasted the same…
So was it the end?
A person with a sweet tooth can’t say that it is the end. My mom never gave up on me. She till date tries to make rice kheer which could come closer to my granny’s version. But you know what! She started making this Sewaiyan Kheer, which I generally don’t like. No matter how good a Sewaiyan kheer is I never ate it. Since my granny passed away, my mom kept trying and she made a Sewaiyan kheer for me and told me to try it.
I tasted it and I was in love again. My mom makes the best Sewaiyan kheer, at least for me that is the best. So the Sewaiyan kheer was my consolation for the rice kheer that no longer tasted the same. My mom jokingly says that you pray to God that let granny come in my dreams and teach me the exact recipe. Somewhere deep within I think that she left the recipe in my sub-conscious. I feel that if I make the rice kheer myself then it will taste the same.
I haven’t ever tried making a rice kheer like her. I have made Phirni so many times. Maybe while finding solace I started liking Phirni as it too is made of rice. But never have I ever tried making a rice kheer like my granny. I feel that I have inherited that recipe from her, but at the same time I am scared to try. What if I make it and it doesn’t taste the same? I will be crest-fallen. The feeling that I have inherited that recipe is beautiful only till I don’t attempt the recipe myself.
Someday I know that I will take this leap of faith. I will attempt that recipe and make a kheer like my granny did. The love she had for me was that secret ingredient. Maybe I need to find that love or let that love find me. Maybe now, maybe many decades later when I become a grandparent, I will be able to recreate the kheer that no longer tasted the same.
Was it that perfect pinch of salt along with love that was crucial or the turmeric that made the difference, or was it the tender coconut crush that worked the magic. I will only know when I attempt and succeed. What you think? Will I succeed? Let me know in the comments. So is there a dish that your granny made and that no longer tasted the same? Isn’t granny’s love just phenomenal?
The takeaway from this story is that, each person has their own specialty. Plus each person has a different taste in their hands. No two people can make the exact same dish. There has to be a difference in the taste if not in the appearance. This is why bigger restaurants don’t change the chefs and the cooks frequently. People like me are picky at times and are easily turned off by the change in taste.
I would love to hear your stories. Do write to me on [email protected] or DM me at foodie_khiladi007. Let me know if you miss your granny’s dishes. This one was a tribute to the love of all the grannies of the world. Love you all. I hope you liked the blog and will share it with all the possible people who would love reading it.
With this your foodie_khiladi sings off for the day in hope to see you soon in my next blog. If you are here for the first time then do subscribe. If you want to ready more such stories then check them out here on the link. See you in my next blog, keep smiling and spreading the smiles.