Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Basundi (a milk sweet)

It is the season after all. To be thankful for the good things you have in life. I know there is nothing like the present to show appreciation but the holiday season always brings it all out. The atmosphere and the things you see around all help bring it to sharper focus like the flickering lights in every house, tinkling of bells mostly by Salvation Army bell ringers and not to forget the multiple holiday parties and cookie socials.

Living faraway from home guarantees that you miss most important milestones of the people close to you. Occasions like birth, weddings and other happy happenings always make me ponder about the life of an immigrant so far away from home but it is nothing compared with the sadness when there is death in the family. It is one occasion when you want to be close to loved ones, console them and be able to be of some help. Even feuding relatives make it a point to visit a bereaved home. Visiting families when they are saddened by loss carries a lot of meaning in the Indian culture.

Talking to friends, DH and kids provides comfort and I am thankful for them every single day but there is always a special something that comes from talking to my brother or cousin who share the bonds from my childhood, who know the quirks that makes up my family and are able to laugh about it. When talking to them it is OK to be unhappy or disappointed about people close to you, or share those pesky fears and guilt that comes from leaving parents behind and wondering if they might need our help. It is telepathic when I hear the phone ring and it is one of them calling and it is the exact moment when there is something swirling in my that I want to unload.

Bonds made in childhood are the strongest and I am thankful for the few of those ties are also in this country we now call home. It is one of the things I want to say thanks for.

What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

Holiday season also signals the cooking of foods rich in butter, creamy desserts, cookies and cakes. I tasted basundhi, a creamy milk sweet at a friend's house recently and it brought back my wish to try making it. Need I say it is rich and creamy and is a perfect dish for the holidays.

The only time I have seen this dish being made was my MIL when there was an abundance of milk after an occasion. It is not a hard dish to make but requires time and patience. She did it by boiling the milk and taking out the cream layers that formed on top and setting it aside till the milk had reduced and then the separated cream was added back into the milk. Instead of taking the cream and setting it aside it can also be done by just moving the creamy layers to the side as the milk reduces in quantity. I followed a combination of techniques.

Time Taken: 2 1/2 hours Basundi Ingredients
  1. 1 gallon of whole milk
  2. 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or as required)
  3. 2 whole green cardamoms
  4. a few strands of saffron
  5. 2 tbsp of roasted and roughly chopped pistachio nuts
  6. 1/2 tbsp of charoli nuts roasted in a bit of ghee(in Tamil sara paruppu)
  1. Heat the milk along with the cardamom and saffron (see note)in a heavy bottomed pan with the flame on below medium. Drop 2 steel spoons to prevent the milk from burning or sticking to the bottom.
  2. Use a sturdy spoon and keep stirring the milk to avoid it sticking to the bottom carefully moving the creamy layers to the side. Do not worry if the creamy layer disintegrates into the milk. Alternately you can start removing the creamy layers to a separate containers.
  3. The milk starts to reduce and when it has reduced to a little less than half. At this stage remove some of the creamy at this point and setting them aside if you have not already started doing it.
  4. Remove the steel spoons. Add sugar and continue to stir and when the milk has reduced to about quarter of the volume, gently mix in the cream and turn off the heat. The milk thickens some more when it cools. Serve chilled or warm.
  5. Sprinkle the nuts just before serving.
1. I added whole cardamoms and left it in there. Alternatively you can powder the cardamoms and add towards the end. Same with saffron, you can soak it a tbsp of warm milk and add towards the end.


  1. I have never been a huge fan of milk ased indian desserts but Hans and Shyama loves them. I am thankfull of lots of things, especially thankfull towards my family plus every one i know are in good health etc...
    i agree living far away and you miss people you are so close too. Especially when one realize they are not there anymore and how much you hope it was the other way, one canot change anything aobut it.
    I miss my mom some times so much that other day i was thinking only if i could just talk to her. Just say hello to her.

  2. This is y i hate living in abroad,we truly miss who are close to our heart. Living almost than 18years far away from India, i know the pain.

    Basundhi, love this droolworthy dessert, its been a long i prepared them.

  3. I agree with the family coming together, putting their differences aside when there is a loss.... witnessed it happen recently.

    Basundi looks divine... i have a weakness for milk based sweets and it reminds me of my dad's basundi... he would also make it when we had too many pkts of milk or if we had long power cuts :)

  4. Lovely dish one of my favourite sweets that I used to order from restaurants...growing up...Happy New Year to you and your family..



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