Monday, October 26, 2009

Gulab jamun for my munchkin's 2nd birthday

Its amazing how time flies. Feels like it was only a few months ago that I was waddling my 60lb heavier than usual self from one class to another, watching my stomach morph shapes as the baby inside me moved and then shortly after that the (literally) gut wrenching pain of my little one's fight to get out.

Lying on the metallic operating table was the most helpless I'd felt in my entire adult life. My OB who had suffered a mild heart attack a couple of weeks earlier was still sick, the idiot anesthesiologist was on his cellphone discussing stocks over my head (in the OR!), my husband sitting on a stool next to me was way too fascinated by the blood and gore to look at my side of the screen, so I just lay there staring at the ceiling feeling the bizarre painless tugging and shoving inside my belly. A few minutes into the process and one deep scoop later, the OB declares, "He's OUT! Oh! He's peed on me but its ok its sterile". And with that stream of defiance Vinodh was out into the world. He was rushed to the pediatrician who had to check his vitals, weight and length before he was bundled up and brought to me. He was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen and I wanted to keep staring at him but the cold OR was not appropriate for the delicate new life. So he was put on top of a little bed and wheeled out to the nursery, his father right behind the nurse. A few more gut pushes and tugs later, numb and drugged, I was heaved (by about 10 people) onto a stretcher into my "birthing suite". I had to be briefed by a "Lactation counselor" before Vinodh was brought back for me to hold him for the first time. I held him for all of 10 minutes before being knocked out by the morphine. Every single detail of that day is so clearly etched in my mind that its hard to believe it was 2 years ago.

Since that day there have been so many lessons learnt, so many tests of patience, so many memories-- a baby totally dependent on you can be a little scary but that helpless little life teaches you how and one smile, a chirpy laugh, one hug and one kiss is enough to make all the fear go away and really all the bad in the world goes away too.

Celebrating Vinodhs birthday is on the scale of a small wedding. We just have so much family here and having to cater to each of their different food habits makes it all the more complicated. I'd ultimately settled on a mostly Indian menu with a couple of pasta options for the little ones and gulab jamun for dessert. Deep fried balls of dough soaked in a cardamom-rose scented syrup-- theres no way to go wrong with it.

1/2 cup milk powder
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
Pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp ghee

For syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups of water
1/4 tsp rose essence
3 pods of cardamom (slightly crushed or powdered)

Make syrup first by putting all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bringing it to a boil. Once boiled, bring heat down to the lowest setting and leave till gulab jamuns are ready.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl, add ghee and add yogurt a little at a time to make a smooth dough. Let rest for a few minutes. In the meantime put on pan with oil for deep frying. Shape dough into small balls about 1cm in diameter. The balls have to be smooth otherwise they'll burst open when fried, they are still just as delicious but not very pretty. Drop balls into the oil and remove with a slotted spoon when they turn dark brown. Place balls into serving dish and add the syrup. Garnish with nuts of choice, I used sliced almonds but crushed pistachios would also work. Let soak for at least 2 hours (the longer the better).

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