As a little girl I never would eat milk desserts outside of my home. Never. In fact, I resisted even milk, tea, coffee or yogurt when I was visiting friends or distant relatives. Not because I disliked these ( though I do not care for plain milk, at all) but I used and still do, shudder at the 'malai' (cream) in any thing.
Much to my horror, people would serve tea with specks of 'malai' floating here and there like lost souls. If it was not specks, HALP! there is a floating island in my tea! ~brrr~
Ditto for yogurt, I'd scoop a spoonful and find a 'tail' hanging off it.....I'd drop the spoon right back where I found it and bury the remains from whence they emerged.
I could fuss at home and get away with all the 'strain the milk.... strain the milk', I could not do anything outside, I was helpless. I decided the smartest thing to do, was to say 'no' as a rule and stick to, " Oh, I do not drink tea, thank you" and refuse a helping of yogurt-rice on the pretext, " I'm full, couldn't eat another bite, thanks".
My biggest fear was Basundi. I loved the taste of basundi - which was strained to remove all the malai , but how could I say so as a guest? I'd sit mutely with the dessert in my plate and at the end of the meal, pass it to my Mom or Dad, whoever was next to me at a relatives home.
Making Basundi at home is my dad's job, he likes it. I strain my portion and enjoy it, like everybody else.
Making Basundi at home has its benefits, you can make a large batch, strain it to your hearts content and enjoy it without being judged as a loony who chucks the malai/ rabdi without a second thought.
We have a contraption like this (shown below) that helps in making a large batch of basundi. It is called the 'basundi plate'.
My friend Dipti, had one of these and let me borrow it for the Diwali get together we had. This 'basundi plate' is a simple 'whirlpool' plate which needs to be placed at the bottom of the heavy sauce pan that you want to use and add the milk and let it simmer. It ensures that the milk does not boil over. Helpful little thing, that! Specially as basundi takes a long time to reduce and thicken.
Here is how I made it.
1 Gallon Whole milk ( you can use 2% and add milk powder, I prefer the hassle free method)
1 Can Sweetened Condensed milk
2 cans Evaporated Milk
~ 6 Green Cardamoms ( peel, use the seeds only , crush to a fine powder using a mortar-pestle)
~1 tsp Nutmeg powder ( I use whole nutmeg and powder it in the mortar-pestle)
Nuts (almonds, pistachios, slivered) to garnish- Optional
Take a heavy bottomed wide sauce pan Place the 'basundi plate' ( if you have it- if not, get ready to spend time stirring the pot frequently).
Pour in the milk and evaporated milk and set the heat at med- low.
Wait, patiently, this can take a couple of hours, so do what you normally do, read ( if you are like me), work out ( if you are not like me), do the laundry, sort it, iron clothes, vacuum, throw a glance at the basundi, resume what you were doing.....
I cannot recollect when, but somewhere in between the milk + evaporated milk and the reading I added the can of condensed milk, gave it a good stir and resumed my reading.
After about 1 1/2 hour, the color of the milk started changing ( I had the stove set on 4- low and slow) and the milk had reduced, but not enough.
I gave it another 45mins -1 hour or so to get a nice dusty pink ( for the lack of a better named shade) and thickened ( reduced by half).
Let the basundi cool down completely.
Now the straining part, this is the 'hard work' part, where I am concerned. I strained all the basundi, carefully and then added the cardamom and nutmeg powder, stir it in well and chill before serving.
If you like the rabdi, add in the cardamom nutmeg powder, stir, chill and serve.
* Points to note:
Cooking time can vary if you have gas/ stove ( electric flat top or coil), so please, keep an eye on the milk.
Adjust the amount of sweetness, I found 1 can of condensed milk more than enough to suit my taste buds. Add more, if you like sweet basundi or less, if you wish
Basundi plate or not, there is bound to be a layer stuck on the bottom of the pan, elbow grease time ahead! Remember, the dessert is worth the hard work.
Basundi is heavy on digestion, enjoy moderately
Add saffron if you like. this is optional, just like nuts.
Straining is optional, but the end result of straining is a silky smooth basundi, which is pleasing not just to the eye, but also to your taste buds and guests who may be fussy like me!