It has been quite a while I relished this sweet and requested my mom to make it for my favorite festival, Navarathiri. Being saraswati puja today, could there be a better occasion to learn it from my mom? (Rhetoric).
The past attempts of making this sweet turned into a series of disaster. First of all, I was apprehensive making it as the process seemed to be endless. Secondly, a coiled electric stove tends to burn the milk solids faster than the flame stove. I also tried using different cookers (Hawkins and prestige), but both tend to burn even if you keep the flame at medium initially. So vexed, I got a brand new slow cooker and tried making it slowly as someone had blogged about it being a successful method. Being the persistent ant I am, I decided to try yet once more. Inference you may ask? Well here it is: After 8 hrs, the darn milk got spoiled and smelled curdled early in the morning. Yuck! It was like waking up to a blocked or leaking drainage. So I proficiently packed the slow cooker and it is in hibernation inside my storage room. Hence, along with the milk, I burnt my wallet on the slow cooker and the pack of incense sticks I had light to up to put the smell away.
When my mom made this for my room-mates and friends while I was at Leeds, they all loved it! We were a diaspora of Indian roots in Leeds and regardless from which corner of India we came from, all of us loved this sweet. It is so simple in its composition and yet so tasty without any fuss. It is almost a paradox.
My mom's quick tips: Keep a wide base pan or cooker (the pan type) to make this dish. It has be a heavy bottom vessel as well. A wide base ensures it gets done faster as you increase the surface area of the milk and decrease the depth. The heavy bottom ensures you do not burn the settled milk solids at the bottom.
Do not add any saffron or cardamom to this dish as they over power the subtle flavors of the milk solids.
So here is a detailed description of the method:-
1/2 a gallon of whole milk
1/2 cup of sugar or more (as desired)
A wide base heavy pan
1. Bring the milk to a boil in medium flame.
2. Reduce the heat at low (out of 10 levels, I keep at 4-5) and reduce the milk for about an hour until it reaches the below stage where in the color changes to a shade of beige. Stir every 1 min. Go on scraping the solids stuck on the sides as the milk goes on reducing so that they do not burn in due course of time.
3. Mix the sugar and stir it in well.
4. Once it reaches a semi solid structure, where there is hardly any milk but the mixture is still wet, turn off the gas. It will solidify more as time goes by or when you keep it in fridge.
5. Serve it hot or cold. I like it cold :)