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I found myself at a South Indian wedding in San Jose, California a few weekends ago. The second coffee kicked in shortly before the bride made her way down the aisle a second time – as the groom’s wife instead of her father’s daughter – and I was suddenly ravenous. My stomach had protested like a groggy child when I tried to eat a few bites of idli with sambar and upma at breakfast a few hours earlier. Now awake, it made demands through a series of burbles and growls. Lunch was coming soon.

Once seated a couple hours later, I was plowing my way through a plate of spicy vegetables and chappati when a tablemate struck up a conversation. We chatted amicably about where we’re from, the foibles of driving while wearing a saree, and eventually food. It started as a casual observation and question – “It’s not too spicy for you?” – and moved on to my favorite topic, Indian sweets. Once the Professor confirmed our mutual obsession for them, especially kheer, she imparted her recipe for quick vermicelli kheer.

Get thee:
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
1 cup vermicelli, broken into bits
small handful of cashews
pinch of saffron
larger pinch of cardamom

Assemble
Bring evaporated and condensed milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Add broken vermicelli. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add cashews, saffron, and cardamom.

Serve warm.

It really is just that easy and resolves the issue of boiling milk to a proper consistency. Since this is something I haven’t quite mastered, this recipe is highly valuable. I also suspect that this could be adjusted to accommodate rice, although I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

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