I learned to make Badham Kheer from my mother. Its an easy sweet drink to make that works for many occasions. Life has been so busy lately, my father in law is visiting me and Shankar and Gopi are in the thick of school already. Appa has taken a major demotion from senior executive to taxi driver, ferrying his sons back and forth from school!
I always have the most interesting conversations with my father-in-law, and one of our favorite subjects is that of the arranged marriage. People are always fascinated to know that my father-in-law and my father arranged the marriage between Shankar and myself. Growing up in Canada I expected to meet someone on my own, date them, and get married. The idea of arranged marriage was not nearly as accepted in the mainstream as it is today. It seemed archaic, 0ppressive, and wholly unromantic. My father would tell me that I would one day go from his home to my husband's home, which would frustrate me to no end as an independent career minded young woman. I felt that my opinion, or my expectations of equal partnership, romance, understanding and acceptance would never be fulfilled by the groom chosen by my parents. All of this for the simple reason that I felt my parents did not understand me, a typical thought of a young adult anywhere in the world. Add to this that my upbringing in Toronto was completely different from that of my parents who grew up in Madras. I was growing up in a society that I felt they didn't understand the pressures of. The stereotypical impression of arranged marriages is one where the bride and groom have very little say in the matter, but todays concept of arranged marriages has changed so much in North America it has become nothing more than an arranged 'blind' date by the boy and girls parents.
It is only now after marriage that I can understand every single one of my parents sentiments which infuriated me as I fought the arranged marriage process. I wanted fireworks. I hated being set up with family friends whom I had known since childhood and never felt anything for. Somehow the search for the perfect man was hindered with all the restrictions placed on potential matches; brahmin, iyer, brahacharanam, non-lohitha gothra, masters degree, tamil, etc etc etc. It began to feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Once my parents convinced me to set up my profile on the internet the alliances came flooding in. Amongst all my girlfriends going through the same process the question of the moment became, "How do you know he is the one?.
I see my friends who are still unmarried, and compare them to my friends who are married. I have a feeling in many cases the two groups can be described as those who have accepted that reality is not perfect, and those still searching for the illusion of perfection. Marriage is about accepting each others flaws and appreciating your life partner for who they are. I think it was ironic that while I was in the process, I was seeking perfection yet expecting the men I met to accept my flaws.
At the end of the day I am very happy I ended up choosing family, culture, and lifestyle as important factors to base a marriage on. My father in law appreciated the badham kheer I made for him, the recipe taught to me by my mother. Its a wonderful feeling that I never anticipated to be part of the equation of marriage. I probably knew Shankar was the one even before I met him, the moment of knowledge being when I met his family and felt comfortable amidst them.
I pose the question to you dear readers, how did you all know he was the one?
Badham Kheer - serves 4
1 cup of almonds, 2.5 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, a pinch of saffron
1. Soak the almonds in hot water for 10 minutes. The skins should snap off easily, peel them.
2. Grind the almonds, with the milk.
3. Simmer the almond mixture for about 15 minutes, and then add the sugar mix until the sugar melts.
4. Garnish with a pinch of saffron.
Badham Kheer Recipes