As a young bride, I had decided to follow the rulebook, even if it suggested something as ludicrous as baking a cake with a husband who was all thumbs at it. My rational thinking told me that it was a sure recipe for disaster but the romantic heart urged that such an act would go a long way in building a harmonious relationship. I asked him coyly to break an egg, which he did, except that the shell fell into the whisking bowl and the egg on the floor. Both of us shrieked together, I for the mess and he in astonishment. The egg had two yolks. I was grumpy for a week.
Now it was his turn with the rulebook. He wanted to plan a surprise after I returned from a tour.
The food channels were his hot favourites. It worried the romantic heart sometimes whether it was the culinary art that attracted him or the pretty presenters with their prattle. A practise session was pertinent for the cook who desired to become an expert of sorts in exotic dishes. He zeroed in on a cauliflower dish that needed a dash of fresh sweet basil. Now basil hardly grows in the place.
The attractive presenter had announced with a flick of her manicured hand that the holy basil or tulsi would work just as fine.
The presenter had asked for a particular seasoning but he found two items of nearly similar shapes on the shelf. Now this was something he found annoying. He had asked me repeatedly to label everything in the kitchen just like in a laboratory but I had put my foot down. Confused totally, he decided to add both seasonings. And then was the final and most important step, the addition of the flavouring-the basil. He put in the fresh leaves and added some more for greater effect. The domestic help announced with a grimace that the dish reminded him of the floral offerings of a temple and refused to taste anything further.
Undeterred, he turned to the cookery channel again. The presenter threw him into a tizzy. There was an exotic dish being cooked with cuckoo meat. Wasn't it amazing that they had culled a cuckoo, a bird that did not even build its own nest? The others presented some dishes that were real tongue twisters and used ingredients from far away Japan and Argentina.
As he sat munching his dinner, he came up with an incredible desi dish that he would like to share with a cookery channel and maybe win a prize. It uses ingredients that are available easily all over India. It is also exotic, easy to make, relatively, and can be cooked even by novices who prefer to maintain a safe distance from kitchen. He has even come up with a short and sweet name for it-Heer.
Here is the incredible recipe. Take some finely cut fresh hay, soak in thickened milk and keep it in the refrigerator overnight. Slowly, cook over low flame until the hay is tender. Then add sugar, finely chopped almonds, fried sultanas, and saffron until the mixture thickens. Refrigerate and serve Heer, or hay kheer. How do you like it?