Grandma is in the kitchen, seated on her ancient pnire, the twin oonoons are still at work despite the late hours, two pots of milk lovingly sit next to each other, enjoying the mellow warmth of fatigued flames.
Maa sits next to her, knitting a lilac and pink cardigan for me. Her fingers fly, unperturbed by the conversation she and Grandma are having.
The milk simmers lazily in the pots, once in a while when the truant milk threatens to bubble over, Grandma gives the pot a hearty stir, almost instantaneously pacifying the seething unrest.
Grandma now reaches out for her sharashi (tongs), lifts the pot from the oonoon, exposing the dying embers, streaks of ominous red peeping menacingly through the grey charcoal, (Maa reprimands as I get close to the oonoon to feel the welcoming warmth) and pours the milk to an earthen pot.
The other pot of milk, lonely now, with his partner dislodged, continues to bubble and fume away.
At Grandmas behest, Maa now hands her a shaal pata with what looks to be a dollop of curd on it. Grandma carefully ladles the curd into the milk and stirs the pot lovingly.
She covers the earthen pot with a lid and leaves it by the side of the lazily smouldering embers.
I remember the evening as if it were yesterday.
The next day, Grandma had proceeded to hang the curd, wrapped in muslin, on the ancient rust-brown hook on the soot-black wall of her kitchen till all the water had drained out and then mix the curd with the patiently reduced milk from the evening before, before packing the curd – reduced milk mix in a battered tiffin-box and immersing the same in a pot of boiling water.
What are you making Grandma ? A curious me had enquired.
Bhapa Doi, she had answered.
And that’s my first remembrance of Bhapa doi. A delectable steamed pudding of yogurt and reduced milk. Served during winters with a generous drizzle of nolen gur !!!
And if you haven’t tried Bhapa Doi yet, don’t procrastinate. Try it this weekend, your taste buds shall be satiated for sure.
Nolen Gurer Bhapa Doi
- 500 g yogurt
- 250 ml reduced milk 1.5 lit reduced to 250ml
- 125 g nolen gur or liquid date palm jaggery
- Tie the yogurt in a cheesecloth, hang, 3-4 odd hours, to allow all the water to drain.
- Transfer the hung yogurt to a bowl, pour the reduced milk and whip till creamy and smooth.
- Add the nolen gur, give it another hearty stir. Feel free to add more gur if you want it sweeter.
- Pour the yogurt - reduced milk mix into ramekins, cover tightly with aluminium foil.
- Steam for 15minutes or till just set. Do not over-cook. Allow the steamed yoghurt to cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate for 3–4 hours. Serve.