It’s been a miserably hot day, like most other days in Madras and I am happy to sink into my bed with the a/c on at full blast. The kids – there are three of them today – Vinski (real name Vinaya but she’s such a tiny half pint that there has to be a diminutive!), Archana’s closest chum, is also spending the weekend with us. The a/c in the kids’ room has conked out (again!) and they have all piled into my bed. Thankfully, we have a large bed and hubby is not in town so there is enough room for everyone.
Before I can sink into sleep, however, a bony elbow pokes me in in the side. I shift. Soon a bonier knee pokes me in the fleshy part. Owf! I move again, turn over and try to shut my eyes tightly. The pokes become more pronounced. I give up.
“Not able to sleep, baby?” I ask the poker.
“Anu auntie,” in the most impossibly high register comes back a squeak. “I’m thinking of that sitaphal basket sitting on the table. Do you think it will be safe?”
“From what?” I whisper back, trying not to wake the other two – though it would have taken an earthquake to make a dent in their slumber!
“I don’t know. Maybe a rat? Maybe… maybe monkeys, you think?”!! Always blessed with the most vivid of imaginations, this kid is the lead creator of all new games and of course, the instigator of a lot of unexplained mischief!
I know what’s going through her mind – all through dinner, her eyes have been on this bunch of big, beautiful sitaphal (not easy to get the really good ones in Madras). I ask her if she wants one after dinner but she shakes her head – she’s full. Her tummy that is… but the heart evidently has other ideas – as evidenced by the midnight poking in my ribs! And so, we finally sneak out of the room, sit and polish off two large sitaphals in companiable silence, and stomachs and souls sated… we got back to bed, to sleep with no more poky bones!
We are a bunch of fruit lovers – able to polish off prodigious quantities with no perceptible effect on our appetites for dinner! I have, on my own, as a child, eaten twenty sitaphals at one sitting and could have eaten more if they hadn’t run out!
Which is why my favourite desserts tend to be fruit-based too and even favourite prasadams, like this…
SATYANARAYANA SWAMI POOJA PRASADAM (which I will make without a pooja!)
- Fine semolina/rava – 1 cup
- Ghee 1/2 cup
- Milk – 1 cup
- Water – 1 cup
- Sugar – 3/4 cup
- Saffron – a few strands
- Edible camphor/pacha karpooram – 1 tiny sliver about the size of a mustard seed
- Cardamoms – 2 – powdered
- Sliced banana – 1
- Fresh coconut – cut into slivers – 2 tbsps
- Slivers of almonds/ cashewnuts and whole raisins – 3 tsbp
- Tulsi/sacred basil leaves – 3-4
Roast the rava in a dry pan till it smells well, “roasty”!
Heat a tbsp of ghee in a pan and fry the nuts and raisins till golden. Remove and set aside.
Add the rest of the ghee and drop in the tulsi leaves. Add the roasted rava and fry till pale yellow.
Mix the milk and sugar together and pour into the rava, stirring constantly. Add water.
Cover and cook on a low flame for 5-6 minutes till the rava is tender.
Add the saffron, edible camphor and cardamom and mix well. Switch off. Cool a bit and add the sliced bananas and coconut.
Dat’s it – easy peasy – a ten minute dessert!
Save it from the monkeys – for your own monkeys!