I have a memory. My mother, stirring the milk as it boils down to a solid mass. Me, a 10 year old, waiting eagerly as she stirs in sugar and a little ghee and hands it over to me.
Apart from being being a delicious treat on its own, khoya (aka khova or mava) is the base for countless Indian desserts. If you are still wondering what it is, all you do is boil a liter of milk (more, if you dare) and then simmer it until the liquid's almost all gone and you are left with a rich, solid mass. It's critical to use a heavy saucepan. And dropping a couple of steel spoons in the milk as it starts to boil usually helps prevent burning. Apart from that, it's just solid effort in terms of stirring it for an hour or two, waiting for the transformation to happen.
I've never made khoya before simply because it has a terrible effort to rewards ratio. And also because it's so easy to get good quality store bought khoya around here. But when Srivalli announced Gulab Jamuns as the October dare for Indian cooking challenge, she also added that we need to make our own khoya.
I love gulab jamuns and when Srivalli extended the deadline to November 15, I had no choice but to get going on this project. I started with just half a liter of milk, and the khoya didn't take that long to make. But it's too much effort for one day, so the gulab jamuns have to wait. Until tomorrow, that is...