He walked along the quiet street, pushing along his bicycle that carried an earthen pot. The sky was slowly turning darker as the streetlamps started to flicker on. The quiet lull of a summer evening hung in the air. He gently smiled to himself. It had been a good day.
As his home grew closer, he lightly rang the cycle bell. Almost instantly, a tiny figure darted out.
“Baba!!” she squealed, flinging her tiny arms around his knees. With an indulgent laugh he lifted the red cloth off his pot and pulled out the last piece. He had saved the one garnished with tutti-fruity, her favorite.
Walking in, he paused for a moment, savoring the delicious aroma of full fat milk and cream on the boil. His wife sat by the wide pan, stirring slowly as it thickened.
“Did you have a good day?” she asked, as always.
“Sunny days are the best” he replied with a grin.
He quickly washed up and got work. He began by shelling the cardamom pods, revealing the dark seeds. As he ground them to a powder, the spicy fragrance joined that of the cooking milk.
He then moved on to the pistachios. Deftly breaking open the shells, he released the green insides that had just the right tinge of pink. He ran his fingers over their bumpy surface and popped one into his mouth, reaching for his knife. Before long, there was a pile of perfectly chopped nuts before him.
The milk was now at half its original quantity. Beside it sat the bag of powdered sugar, with his daughter dipping her fingers into it. He playfully swatted her away and carefully measured out the required amount of milk. His wife added the cardamom powder and the nuts, while stirring. The mixture soon thickened to the consistency of rabdi.
“Can we pour it into molds now?” asked his daughter excitedly.
“We can, but let’s cool it in the fridge for a while” he said. “They’ll come out smoother”
As the mixture cooled, they sat for dinner. He told them stories about the children who ran to him after school for their daily treat. After dinner, he helped his daughter with her homework and tucked her into bed. Meanwhile, his wife arranged the kulfi molds, waiting to be filled.
Together they filled the molds, taking care to leave a little space for the kulfi to expand. They then popped them into the deep freezer to set overnight.
The next morning, the malai kulfi was ready. Dipping the molds in lukewarm water, he inserted a wooden stick in each and pulled out the delicious sweet. His wife sprinkled garnishes over them and he carefully placed them in his pot.
As he covered the pot with his red cloth and hoisted it on to his cycle, his daughter came rushing out, her eyes shining expectantly. He handed her the first piece, garnished with freshly chopped fruits. The day had begun.
Setting off, he squinted up at the shining sun and smiled to himself. It would be a good day.