Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dessert from the Motherland

My parents are from India, having moved here in the 1980s. I was born and raised in America, and despite being back to India several times to visit family, I'm definitely not too culturally attuned to my roots. In fact, my friends refer to me as the most American girl they know. This wasn't due to any particular reason, but growing up, I simply preferred taking ballet class to Bharatanatyam, Full House to Aishwarya Rai, and dresses to salwars.

I always enjoyed our summers in India, where my grandparents and most of my cousins still are, but the multitude of mosquitoes, overbearing heat, and lack of adequate technology always made me crave going back home. One thing, however, I definitely prefer Indian to American? Growing up eating delicious and spicy Indian food. My mom didn't serve my brother and I separate "kids meals" at dinnertime. Nope, it was whatever my dad and her were eating. Dinner typically consisted of rice, lentils or some other sauce to soak up the rice, a vegetable dish, and a chicken or beef dish.

When I was preparing to move to law school before my first year, I made sure to commit my mom's recipes to pen and paper. She doesn't use measurements or keep track of the process, but cooking Indian food has always been something I've known I would carry on in my own life. Law school was the first time I would be living in an apartment with a fully equipped kitchen and without a campus meal plan (well, besides that semester I studied abroad in Prague). So, come orientation, I set off with a shoebox full of her spices and a folder stuffed with her recipes.

Ultimately, I think I made Indian food about twice last year. It was always so much simpler and shorter, just to whip up some pasta, heat up a microwaveable meal, toss together a salad, or throw some meat and veggies on a baking dish to roast. This year, I haven't made Indian food once... except for on Tuesday when I made rasmalai, an Indian dessert. I've never made it before, but it's so easy and I had the perfect opportunity. My International Trade professor had our class of 20-some odd students over for dinner with his wife, and as my class is largely comprised of international LLM students, he asked for a few volunteers to bring an ethnic dish. I was really happy with the results and everyone seemed to love trying rasmalai. And after you see this recipe, you'll see it's pretty foolproof!

Ricotta cheese: 48 ounces
Sugar: 2.25 cups
Half and half: 32 ounces

Boil half and half and .75 cup sugar for 5 minutes, let cool, and set aside
Preheat oven to 350 F
Mix ricotta cheese and 1.5 cup sugar in a bowl
Pour the mixture into a 13 x 11 inch tray
Keep the tray in the oven for 60 to 75 minutes
Baking is over when inserted toothpick comes out clean
Let cool for one hour then cut into pieces
Pour the half and half and sugar liquid over the pieces
Keep refrigerated and serve cold

Recipe source: my mom 

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