I have often shared several of my childhood stories with you. Food that triggers memories of my grandparents, parents or close relations is something I often cherish. It makes preparing that particular dish all the more special. While stirring the dal or whisking batter for a special cake, I will find myself smiling at the memories of my mother or my grandmother.
The pictures are so vivid and it seems like I am almost transported to that time once again, watching myself from above. I can hear the voices, see the graphic details and most importantly, smell the wonderful aromas. Many of you know that food has always been a vital part for my family. For us it was not so much the eating it to fill ourselves but more a social and celebratory method of getting together.
At our dinner table we would discuss, loudly - everyone speaking at once if the topic was passionate enough, we would laugh and cheer, we would even argue. I think only Indians can do all that in one mealtime sitting. The dialogue was mostly in English with Hindi words dotted throughout the sentences, unless my grandmother was around, then we would speak more Hindi - because she never spoke to us in English.
Whether we were in Doha, San Francisco or in Delhi our mealtimes were always filled with joy, a lot of talk and plenty of bustle. When I first came to live in Germany, I was rather surprised how quiet things were here. I remember my first lunch at Tom's parents place! Everyone ate in silence - what torture. It was bad enough having the feeling that all eyes were on me, but not being able to escape into the comforts of a good debate or discussion was the worse.
Tom did confirm the fact that during their meal times, discussions were not as lively as what he had experienced when he met my parents. It's over 10 years now that I am a part of Tom's family and today meal times at the Wolff household are almost as loud and lively as the ones I remember with my parents and family. Here we do not talk all at once - one waits till the other one is finished, but the laughter is just as loud and the discussions can get very passionate.
I will frown at Tom when he tells Soeren to be quiet for a minute and finish what's on his plate - why? In my mind I want Soeren to talk and debate just as openly and laugh just as heartedly as I did when growing up. No one told me to be quiet. I learned so much at our meal times. My dad told us about his adventures from a recent trip, my mum discussed our problems. If we were on vacation with my grandparents, my grandfather would tell us stories about the Sikh religion, my nani would tell us about her childhood.
In the same way it is important to me that Soeren is not bound down but given wings to freely speak his mind. After all it is at mealtimes where we all sit down together, relaxed and free from the worries of the day. And I know if I do have worries it is at the dinner table where I can discuss it with my family over a comforting and delicious meal.
Yes - mealtimes with the family are sacred to me. It is the anticipation I feel while cooking, that soon we will get together and just be able to relax and talk.
When the larger part of the family got together once or twice a year, my mother or nani always made one of 2 sweet dishes. It was either an Indian rice pudding, known as kheer, or a bread pudding. It was a kind of welcome comfort food. Where ever we would be getting together - be it in India or in the US, our family was flying in from all over the world. We from Doha, others from England, India or different parts of the US - one thing we were very certain about, upon arrival we would find bowls of comforting kheer or bread pudding.
As kids my brother, cousins and myself would make fun "I bet you it's kheer!" "10 bucks it's bread pudding!" Fun aside, we were just dying to dig in to whatever was prepared. Because it meant we were all together again!
Now as grownups it seems we're spread further apart from each other as before. We do see each other every now and then but the ritual has remained. In my own way I have taken over the ritual. Whenever we get home after a long journey or vacation I have to make rice pudding or bread pudding. Just so that my soul and spirit knows I am home.
This roasted pumpkin and chocolate bread pudding is one of Soeren's favorites. I use whole wheat challah or, if I have it, sourdough English muffins. Roasting the pumpkin really brings our the sweet mellow flavors, which works perfectly with the bittersweet chocolate.
Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin and Chocolate Bread Pudding
Printable version of recipe here.
250 ml heavy cream
1 medium sized pumpkin, cut into medium sized pieces
120 ml whole milk
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
100 g Muscovado sugar
100g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
85g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt
250 - 300 g whole wheat challah, cubed
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Brush a baking sheet with some oil and lay out the pumpkin pieces. Roast in the oven until soft, making sure the pumpkin does not get too dark.
- Purée the pumpkin until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolk, and spices.
- In a separate bowl, toss the challah cubes with the butter, then pour in the pumpkin mixture. Mix to coat.
- Transfer the challah mixture to a square ovenproof baking dish (approx. 20.5 x 20.5cm). Sprinkle the coarsely chopped chocolate pieces, giving a gentle mix so that the pieces are evenly divided.
- Bake in the oven until set - about 25 - 30 minutes.
Serving Tips: I love this creamy bread pudding with maple walnuts ice-cream. Make your own if you want but Movenpick's Maple Walnuts is a decadent treat and tastes just d'lish!
That's right because it's ummmm so good! Comforting and it reminds me of all that it dear to me. The spices, chocolate and the pumpkin are at perfect harmony with each other. Soeren can never get enough of the bread pudding. He has also come to realize that a bread pudding simply means being finally home, where things are always OK!
Taking Jeanne's cue I am also sending this to this month's Waiter There's Something In My .... This month's theme is Sweet & Savory Swap!
You might like these delight from WFLH:
|Banana Brioche Pudding with Baileys Caramel Cream||Chocolate Mountains||Whole Wheat Pancakes with Nutella and Mangoes|
From around the blogs:
- Warm Milk-Chocolate Croissant-Bread Pudding - Minimally Invasive
- Challah Bread Pudding with Blueberries & Cardamom - [eatingclub] vancouver
- S’mores Bread Pudding - Peabody
Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:
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