Saturday, 27 October 2012

Double promotion

Gavhachi Kheer (broken wheat or wheat pearl porridge)

Satyamma the multi-purpose maid walks up to the teacher at her desk. Having finished all her work, the little observant girl has been looking around her and absorbing the goings on. She wills the two grown-ups to look at her – are they talking about her? Well, they are and they do!  Viju Bai, the teacher calls out to little Shruti. Her tiny heart thudding, Shruti walks to the front of the class.

“Well done, beta! You have got doubble promotion! You will now study in First standard! Go and collect your things, you need to go to your new class!” She says fondly.

“Chalo!” says Satyamma, slurping up the paan juices and leading me by gently pushing and poking me in the middle of the back.

The first grade classroom is but a few feet away, in another open huddle of little colorful wooden chairs and desks arranged like many others in the large hall of the Bhagini Mandal’s Shishu Vihar. I am taken there and pointed to a pink chair in the first row. A kindly Shobhana Bai smiles in welcome.

That’s it.

No fuss, no written rationale for considering double promotion on the basis of maturity level/age, high achievement or attendance, no parent interview, no counselors involved, no gifted students assessment, no grievance handling procedures…

But then I forget - this was when school was "Shishu Vihar" and teachers were fondly called Viju Bai and Shobhana Bai!

That afternoon, mother comes to know of this double promotion from an excited me romping in with the news. She smiles, pats me on the back, “Shabbassh!” and the matter rests there.

No concern whatsoever; no worries ever.

The only fuss ever made was at the time of every board exam, when I had to submit a certificate from the doctor that I was physically and mentally fit to appear for the board exam.

OK, I will admit I got teased invariably as “physically I was fit, but mentally… ?”

Years later I became a teacher and later a parent myself and re-entered the system.

All I can say is that things were much easier in those days. 

As easy as it is to make a kheer out of dalia or broken wheat, in place of the tediously de-husked wheat pearls. 

The other day, on a visit to Atul Sikand's famous Sikandalous Kitchen, I was given a choice at breakfast...

Avatar Singh : Pohe, upma?
Atul Sikand : Nah- she’s from the land of upma and pohe.
Avatar Singh: Sprouts?
Me: No, I can’t chew!
Avatar Singh: Dalia porridge?
Me: Oh yes! Have you got khus khus and jaggery? And some saunf and coconut? I will make gavhachi kheer!
Avatar Singh: Yes, memsaab…
(Goes out to fetch these things)
Atul Sikand:  Or home grown organic eggs
Me: Yes! I would love to eat the wholesome non-smelling eggs, please!
Avatar Singh comes back with some khus khus and gur, but is told we have abandoned the porridge and settled on the eggs.

Avatar gets busy preparing the eggs.

In that instant I realise I had given a double promotion to a Dalia porridge by euphemistically calling it “Gavhachi Kheer”! No fuss! How simple is that!

Gavhachi Kheer (wheat pearl kheer) or Dalia porridge

This dish is a delicacy in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, where it is called “godama payasam” and “huggi”.

The process of de-husking the wheat to make pearls is very cumbersome. Wheat has to be soaked, drained and semi- dried. This process loosens the husk, which contains cellulose that can’t be digested. The wheat is then pounded and the husk loosened even more. Then it is dried thoroughly and the husk rubbed and chaff winnowed. The de-husked pearls are then stored and cooked soft to make the kheer.

I substitute, errr, give double promotion to broken wheat or dalia to go into this exotic dish. The addition of dates is also my take- a very delicious alternative to cane sugar!


1 cup broken wheat
A pinch of salt
1 cup deseeded and chopped dates
¾ cup fresh grated coconut
1 tbsp lightly roasted and powdered poppy seeds
½ cup or more grated gur or sweetener
2 tbsp ghee
½ tsp crushed cardamom
¾ tsp lightly roasted and crushed saunf (fennel seeds)
¼ tsp grated nutmeg 
2-3 tbsps slivered almonds, sliced cashews – fried in ghee
2 cups hot milk
1 cup hot/cold milk to serve
Ghee as required to top the kheer


Roast the dalia in the ghee till it is golden brown and lets out the aroma. Add two-three cups boiling water, pinch of salt, and cook the dalia till almost done. You can pressure cook it as well and then mix it in the pressure cooker itself. Keep stirring the mixture and add the powdered poppy seeds, coconut, dates, gur or sweetener, saunf, cardamom, nutmeg and adjust the taste. Keep stirring occasionally and switch off the heat when you have a perfectly cooked homogeneous porridge or kheer.

Add two cups of hot milk to finish it.

To serve, add milk to loosen the mixture and serve warm topped with the fried nuts and dollops of hot ghee!

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