I always looked forward to the annual exams in April because I could go home earlier, because while riding home from school Appa would buy me flavoured milk from Aavin, because two whole months of unbridled fun with cousins awaited me – slurping entire mangoes through tiny holes (no knives needed for this method), taking turns learning to ride the lone BSA SLR, playing carrom pauper and losing every time, sweeping the driveway, plucking leaves and tossing them in the air while dancing to “Pattasai chuttu chuttu podatuma” and littering the driveway, getting chased, plucking nellikkai off trees and running around the house. No TV except Friday evening, when we’d wash our faces, oil and plait our hair, powder our faces and get ready to watch the biggest show – Oliyum Oliyum – chart busting Tamil cinema songs for a full half hour.
Afternoons, there was nothing on TV even if you wanted to watch. Static meant no programmes now or your antenna was off. Someone would run up to the terrace, shoo away the birds and adjust the antenna, another would position himself on the stairs midway between antenna operator and the TV viewing public and shout back and forth – ‘Now?’, ‘Not ok’, ‘Now?’, ‘Innum mosam’ (even worse), ‘No go back to previous position’, ‘Hey I can see neighbour’s TV from here’, ‘Shut up and hurry’, ‘Ok podhum’ (enough).
What brought on this wave of nostalgia is the cardamom flavoured milk I made a couple of days back. Aavin Cardamom flavoured milk is still my favourite. Every day after my exam, while coming home with Appa on our scooter, we’d stop at Aavin on Thirumalai Pillai road and I’d get myself a pack of flavoured milk – usually cardamom flavoured and sometimes Pistachio flavoured. Nothing for Appa. I’d sip on my flavoured milk the rest of the ride home. Hot sun blazing above, sweat drenched shirt sticking to my back, hair sticking to my head, shoes are hot too and then with the first sip of the chill, daintily sweet flavoured milk – Aah what pleasure!
I couldn’t grab Hasini and Yuvan’s attention for a couple of minutes amidst ‘Ninja Hattori’, ‘Motu Patlu’ and ‘Chota Bheem’ to introduce this cardamom flavoured milk to them. Yuvi is already the ‘Coke’ type of guy and Hasini the ‘Slice’ girl. I have bought new spiral straw cups to entice the little rebels. Will let you know how that goes.
Meanwhile make this flavoured milk. It is as simple as can be, involves just 3 ingredients. Boil milk along with crushed cardamom pods till the milk is infused with the cardamom flavour, is very slightly reduced. Sweeten it with some sugar, strain the cardamom and chill. I added a tiny pinch of green colour for a light green shade. You could skip this altogether if you’re not vain like me and aren’t trying to make up your food for the world.
Pour out a chilled glass of cardamom flavoured milk and get transported to old times. For your information, Aavin still makes Cardamom flavoured milk and I think Doordarshan plays Oliyum Oliyum.
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Milk – 1 litre
Green Cardamom pods – 12-15 crushed (not ground)
Sugar – 6-8 tbsp (or as per your taste)
Green food colour – a pinch (optional)
1. Drop the cardamom pods into a pot. Pour milk into it and heat. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or so. The milk should now be cardamom scented.
2. Stir in the sugar and wait for it to dissolve. Switch off.
3. Strain the cardamom and let it come down to room temperature. Add the food colour (if using) and stir well. Pour the flavoured milk into a jar or bottle and chill for 4 hours or more.
4. Serve chilled.