Monday, 5 May 2014

Chili Herb White Butter: A lesson in perseverance

I am in extreme pain right now. I have not caught a minute's sleep all night. I am struggling to key in these words. A sharp mind numbing pain is shooting up my arms every few seconds. I am gasping every time I am moving my arm. Well what got me into this painful predicament?

I made butter last night.

Yesterday, I was mindlessly Google-ing like I often do. I read about alien conspiracy theories, articles on the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, watched a few random videos, read obituaries of famous authors and of course browsed through recipes for inspiration. That's when I chanced upon an article on making butter manually. Yes no electronic blender, just hands and a shaker. All that you had to do, the article said, was take about 100 ml heavy cream in a shaker, cap it tight and shake for several minutes. They said, after several minutes what you'll have is whipped cream. Another few minutes of shaking back and forth and voila a blob of luscious yellow butter floating on residual buttermilk they said. "I am doing it," I said.

This time the Nescafe guys gave this free shaker with 50g pouches of coffee and ever since it arrived I have been shaking up milk, ice, coffee and sugar like my life depended on it. I decided it was time I used it for a greater feat. So out came a pack of Amul cream, the cream was poured into the shaker and the shaking began. It was somewhere between 8:30-8:45 last evening. It struck me at this point, that I, and not that lidded plastic tumbler, was the shaker. I was the one shaking things up. around here.

Now according to me several minutes meant anything less than 30 minutes. Now come on if it is 30 minutes won't we just say half an hour. And once it is above the half an hour mark, several is an under statement. After fifteen minutes of shaking at a more or less constant speed, I opened the lid to check. Ah no, no whipping cream, just slightly frothy Amul cream. So I continued shaking. At this point I had already come to the conclusion that this could be my prospective regime for slim, toned arms. I had begun to sweat, may I say profusely and my arms had begun to sense a tingling pain. Who said butter was unhealthy or fattening? The trick was to make it, rather than eat it.

9:15 still no luck. I was beginning to get impatient. Another five minutes, I said or you're going to the dust bin. I put on some music and continued shaking. I wished I had a glass of wine to sip on while I shook. At 9:40 ish I saw a slight change in the texture on the milk. A thin layer of sorts had formed on top. I thought I should take a picture, decided against it, lest the rest affected the butter formation. At five past ten, Ma called for dinner. I usually eat by 9. I throw tantrums if I do not get dinner by 9.

No, nothing. I was hungry, sweating like a pig and my arms and shoulders were throbbing. To hell with it I said. And then that little story came to my mind, about this guy looking for a diamond under a sea of pebbles and how he loses hope and gives up. And how had he only lifted the next pebble he would have found the diamond. So I continued. I also concluded that making butter was no trifling matter, it entailed life's bigger philosophies. By now I had come down to checking every 2-3 minutes. And yes the texture of the milk had changed, first it turned grainy and thick and then slowly I could see it get grainier and thicker. Another hour passed during the course of which I watched 1920, yes that excuse of a horror film, fought with my brother for accessing my Facebook account without my permission and read three pages from Albert Camus' The Fall. I wondered if I had been generating some amount of electricity in all this while. At 11:05 my mother threatened to clear the food and also called me a moron for shaking a shaker for two hours and a half. I peered into the shaker one last time, and yes there was butter alright. No not a yellow blob though. It was white but there it was clearly floating about a thin watery residue.

I decided I would stop and simply make do with what I had. I strained it, kneaded it under cold water for a couple of minutes. And there it was creamy butter. The pain in my arms was gone. Only a sense of accomplishment washed over me.

I was not satisfied with plain butter so I went on to add some salt, half a teaspoon chili flakes, a pinch of basil and a pinch of parsley and there it chili herb butter. It went straight into the fridge and I went off to bed. I skipped dinner anyway. I was too exhausted. All I wanted was to sleep. Little did I know what the night had in store. I'll go get myself a cup of coffee to calm my nerves. Long day ahead.

Inference: Now I am guessing one reason why it took me so much of time and shaking to get this butter was the fat content in the cream. I should have ideally worked with heavy cream and regular Amul cream clearly isn't. Next time, heavy cream and hands...errr a hand blender.

Ingredient list
100 ml heavy cream
1/2 tsp chili flakes
A pinch of basil
A pinch of parsley
Salt to taste

Shake away!!!!

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