Peanut Brittle/Chikki

100_6568I feel dumb even writing down this recipe! Its so very simple and tastes so so good. I have been munching on these since the time I realized I could easily, very easily make em at home. All you need is jaggery which you can sub with sugar(brown or white) and your choice of additions. Be it peanuts, sesame or dry fruits like walnuts, almonds, cashews taste delish! Once the jaggery has melted, work fast as the mixture will harden (very fast) as it cools. Cut it into little shaped when its still warm if you want even squares or let it harden and gently tap on the hardened for it to break.  I like the chikki (that’s what we call peanut brittle here in India) hard however if you are the “only-chewy” make sure to add a tablespoon or so of water to let them be chewy. I have added a dash of cardomom for flavor, however you can omit that if you please!

Ingredients:

  • 270 grams Jaggery or sugar (either brown or white)
  • 250 grams roasted peanuts (skinned and unsalted)
  • 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) (Optional)
  • A pinch of cardamom (Optional)

Recipe:

  • Grease a plate with ghee/butter/oil and set aside.
  • Roast the peanuts and remove the skin. Once the peanuts have been roasted, grind them to a coarse consistency.However if you prefer the chikki to have peanuts as a whole , skip the grinding part.
  • Next, in a deep bottomed pan add the jaggery and ghee. On low heat let it melt. Once it is melted, let it acquire a little reddish/brown tinge. If you’re using sugar, caramelize the sugar till it reaches a golden brown color. As soon as it reaches this stage, take it off the flame and immediately add the peanuts and cardamom powder.100_6572
  • Pour onto prepared plate and smoothen with the back of a wet knife.
  • Cut into desired shapes while it is still warm.100_6578

No Fail Gulab Jamuns

100_5596Yep, no fail. I mean, seriously no fail.
What’s gulab jamun you ask? A sweetmeat that will leave you in wonderment. You will curse yourself for not knowing about it earlier. You will be transported to a land of bliss where only you and oh so wondrous spongy sugar syrup filled balls fill your mouth with warmth and slowly engulf your whole being into pure love for it.

Gulab jamun comes from Persian words gol (rose) and āb (water), referring to the rosewater-scented syrup, and Hindustani jamun, m. Syzygium jambolanum (also jāmaṇ, m, from the Hindustani language), an Indian fruit with a similar size and shape Gulab (good ole Wiki!)

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If you’ve made gulab jamuns before, you will know that they are a little difficult to perfect. The traditional way of making these involves a mixture of khoya and all purpose flour mixed with a little soda. However ,using this method at times can make the jamuns a lil tough and dry. The humidity, texture of the khoya and how well you knead the dough make it so.
But with this recipe, you can make these in a breeze.100_5568
You don’t need to adhere to any so called rules before making these!  How cool is that?

Well, I got this recipe from a social web sharing cookbook application called Sweet N Spicy.

Ingredients:

For the jamuns:

  • 1 cup milk powder
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tsp cream
  • Oil or ghee for deep frying.

For the sugar syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 cardamom pods crushed and ground to a fine powder or a pinch of cardamom powder.
  • 1 – 2 drops rose essence

Recipe:

To make the gulab jamuns in a big bowl mix the milk powder, flour and baking soda.
Now add the ghee and cream and keep kneading till the dough is slightly moist and soft. You can add more cream if the dough is not coming together.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and set it aside for around 10 minutes.100_5543
While the dough is resting we can prepare the sugar syrup.

How to make the sugar syrup:
Add the sugar, water, cardamom powder and rose essence in a pan. 100_5548Mix well on medium heat until it begins to boil. Let it boil for around 5-6 minutes. Switch off the gas.
After the 10 minute rest, add some oil to your palms and divide the dough into equal portions. Roll them into smooth balls . 100_5550
Heat the oil on medium heat. Once hot, test it by adding a gulab jamun to it. If it is the right temperature it will rise to the top in about 20 seconds.
Fry the gulab jamuns for 5 minutes or until golden brown ensuring that they cook evenly.100_5554
Drain the excess oil on a napkin.
Set aside.
Allow the gulab jamuns to cool for a few minutes before adding them to the sugar syrup. Let them sit in the syrup for about 20 minutes before serving.
Here, have a bite!

Here, have a bite!

Sheer Korma

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Today I want to share this wonderful recipe of Sheer Korma,”Khurma”, a delicacy made on the auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr with all of you.

My great grandmother was Iranian  who later settled in Afghanistan decades ago and my grandmother after spending most of her childhood there, moved to India. What she had with her was a blend of Iranian,Afghani recipes which later adapted Indian tastes and ultimately made this dish so wonderful.

Delicious blanched almonds, pistachios, and roasted vermicelli  sautéed in ghee with subtle hints of fresh cardamom, combined with fresh milk thats thickened to perfection and topped with dry fruits. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s Sheer Korma for y’all!

This recipe is passed down from preceding generations, my mom, grandmother , great grandmother have all used this very recipe and it is just so close to all of us. I’m transported to a different era altogether when I have a sip of it. I can almost feel my grandmother’s presence, imagine her cooking the very same thing for her family, in the very same kitchen. For some it might be eery, but for me its my house transformed to the early 19th century, bustling with the pre-independence excitement (and Eid!) all while sipping on sheer korma.
I’m pretty sure this recipe is one which you should never ever part away with. Memorize it. This is something that’s not meant to be forgotten.

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre full fat milk
  • 6 dry palm dates/chuara soaked in half cup of milk
  • 2 tsp pure ghee
  • 6 cardamom pods, seeds crushed / ground
  • 15-20 blanched almonds
  • 1 tbsp chopped pistachios
  • 1 tbsp full of roasted vermicelli
  • 50 grams mava (optional)
  • A few saffron strands (optional)
  • 7 tbsp sugar (Adjust according to preference)
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Clockwise khoya, some charoli /Buchanania lanzan (a type of dry fruit), chopped almonds (skin peeled), and dry dates soaked in milk

Recipe:
In a thick bottomed pot pour the one litre milk and dry dates soaked with the milk.
On the lowest heat, keep stirring until the milk has now reduced to 3/4th of its original content.

In another pot, pour the ghee and before it can come to heat add the cardamom powder, half of the almonds, half of the pistachios and stir fry for 1-2 minutes maximum. Add in the roasted vermicelli and stir for a good one minute. Remember, all this is being done on the lowest heat possible.

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Add in the prepared milk to this and boil it on medium flame for 5-6 minutes.
Add in the mava/khoya, and when it reaches a full rolling boil, add a few strands of saffron and drop in the sugar. Stir for a minute and take it off the heat.
Remember, after we add the milk this whole procedure shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Be quick and make sure everything is at hand.

Garnish with the rest of the almonds and pistachios. Serve warm or cold. Either way, it tastes delicious.

Eid Mubarak everybody!

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Here, have a bite!

Doodhi Halwa

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Ever been to Mahim ? It’s a quaint old neighborhood in Mumbai that’s supposedly pronounced with a silent “m” so, Mahi which is a contraction of Mahikavati.. but for me it’s always been Mahim.  Mahim was one of the seven islands that originally made up Mumbai and one of the most famous places around here is the mausoleum of Makhdoom Ali Mahimi , a revered Muslim scholar who as legend says, was known to have supernatural powers . The construction of the mausoleum took place in 1431 A.D . Well I’m not deviating, but right next to this  Mausoleum is a “mithai” (Sweetmeat) shop. It’s there where I have found the perfect doodhi ka halwa. Doodhi/Dudhi is better known as ” Bottle gourd ” and “halwa” being our very delicious mithai/sweetmeat. Rich and so very moist. Not as sweet as “gajar ka halwa” but with a subtlety that lets the deliciousness linger. Wrapped in butter paper, this used to be the only treat that I would look forward to if I knew someone had even passed through Mahim. It had been years since I even had Doodhi ka halwa and when I saw these at the market recently, I knew what I had to make.

I have made this twice this past week itself, using two different techniques but achieving the same beloved.  The recipe I am giving is prepared in under 20 minutes and uses khoya, however if you plan on using whole milk or if you don’t have khoya, just use 3 cups milk and it’ll be ready in around an hour.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 kg bottle gourd (Peeled and grated)
  • 50 grams ghee
  • 300 grams sugar (Adjust according to taste)
  • 200 grams Khoya/Mava/Khova
  • few drops green food color (Optional)
  • 10-15 slivered almonds/pistachios/cashews
  • 5 cardamom pods ground to a fine powder or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder

Recipe:

Grate the doodhi.

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In a wide pan, pour half of the ghee and add in the doodhi.Saute it for around 5 minutes. Add in the sugar.

Let the water from the doodhi evaporate, and once it does, add in the rest of the ghee.

Mix well and stir in the khoya and cardamom .

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Once the khoya is added, stir for around 4-5 minutes until no more water is remaining. If you’re using the food color, add in now and mix well.

Add in half of the almonds.

Remove from heat and serve warm with some slivered almonds on top.

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Here, have a bite!

Serve warm.

Bhapa Doi

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Its what I call India’s version of a cheesecake! Bhapa Doi is a Bengali dish, loosely translating to baked yogurt. “Bhapa” being steamed and “Doi” meaning yogurt . Well, technically it isn’t a cheesecake. But that shouldn’t refrain you from making this Bong delicacy. Its so so light and highly refreshing! A great thing about this dish is that it can be made in a jiffy. With subtle hints of vanilla for me, this can be adapted into your favorite flavors! Cardamom, saffron, for the classic Indian version. But I don’t know what’s with the vanilla? I just love looking at those tiny little specks of vanilla floating into Bhapa Doi. If your out of vanilla pods, you can use vanilla extract/essence, but I just can’t stress this enough for you to use the real deal. You can either steam this in a pressure cooker for the classic version or just bake it in the oven at a really low temperature either in a water bath if low temp baking ain’t your cuppa, or without one. Just don’t increase the temperature more? It needs to baked at a really low temperature and should be removed once its just set

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Refrigerate it until it sets some more, and have it cold. Sprinkle some chopped almonds/pistachios to take it up a notch!

This recipe can easily be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 200ml Condensed milk  (I used Homemade Condensed Milk)
  • 200g Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt, completely drained/hung overnight) 
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped/1 tsp vanilla extract/essence or a few saffron strands/ 4 cardamom pods for the classic Indian version 
  • A few chopped dry fruits (almonds,pistachios) to serve

Recipe:
Preheat oven- 150 C
Mix condensed milk, yogurt and vanilla until combined100_4536
Place in 4 small moulds. Put moulds in water bath and bake for 30-35 min.100_4538
Remove from oven, let it come to room temp and allow to cool in fridge for 1 hour
Demould, and garnish with dry fruits.

Here,have a bite!

Here,have a bite!

Happy Ganesh Chaturti/Rasgullas

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Pic courtesy : A very kind friend

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi one and all! May the lord shower you with wealth and goodwill.
Come September and its the month of festivals in India. Winter has arrived and brings with itself festivals galore!
Now don’t festivals entail sweets?
Ganesh is the elephant god, and today we celebrate Lord Ganesha’s rebirth, the son of Shiva and Parvati
Though Ganesha loved “modaks” a sweetmeat made out of coconuts and jaggery, I’m not really a fan of them. So I decided to make some mouth-watering rasgullas ! Rasgullas are white ricotta balls immersed in a rose flavored sugar syrup and simmered to perfection. Now doesn’t this make your mouth water? Being a Bong myself, I am absolutely in love with rasgullas
Now these are amazingly spongy and so so light ! Its plus point being they can be made in a jiffy with 2 versions, either pressure cook the balls for 10 minutes or simmer them in your sugar syrup for 40 minutes. Either way, they taste delish! If your greedy like me, you can have them warm but if you’re the goody-to-shoes, then let it refrigerate until cold and munch away peeps!

Ingredients:
For the rasgulla balls

  • 1 litre full fat milk
  • 3-4 tbsp of lemon juice/white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot/cornflour

For the sugar syrup

  • 2-3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • few drops rose essence

Recipe
Bring milk to boil and switch off gas. Add the vinegar/lemon juice and wait for the milk to curdle. Once you see that the milk has started curdling, stir the milk with a spoon until all of the milk fats have separated. Add a cup of chilled water to this.
Take a cheese cloth, and strain this through it. You can keep the whey for other purposes. One is, instead of using water in while making the dough for rotis, use whey..it will yield you the softest rotis you’ve ever had! Wash this cheese under cold water to remove any smell/taste of the vinegar/lemon.

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Let it hang for an hour or two until all the water is drained.
In a plate, put the cheese and mix in the arrowroot/cornflour, and start kneading it

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Keep kneading until you get a smooth dough, around 10 minutes.
Now, divide this dough into lemon sized balls making sure no cracks are visible. However if cracks do arise, its fine. But I like my rasgullas to have a smooth finish.

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Now put the sugar , water and 2 drops of rose essence to boil. Once it reaches a full boil, drop in the balls one by one.

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Let it simmer for full 30 minutes, adding more water tablespoon by tablespoon so that the syrup doesn’t get too thick

.100_4739
If you’re using the pressure cooker method, make the syrup in the pressure cooker , put the rasgullas in and close the lid. Let one whistle pass on high flame. Reduce flame to low and switch off gas after 5 minutes. let it cool naturally. Serve warm or cold.

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P.S: I had left most of the rasgullas to cool in the refrigerator and went about doing my chores as usual, however when I had come back to the rasgullas, only this tiny little piece was left for me from my rasgulla devouring monsters! reason? I had sneaked in a few rasgullas while they were warm!! (Can’t complain) 

Caramel Sauce

I have met dozens of people who refrain from making caramel at home . Its either they have had too many burnt sugars, or they have simply given up making something so simple ; for lack of proper instructions.
Touchwood, I haven’t been one of those. I got making caramel right at the first attempt, that would be almost a year back. My non-blogging days. Infact making caramel at home isn’t scary. Doesn’t require a candy thermometer. And is one simple process.
You need to be alert, since caramel is made under 10 minutes. Moreover,this tastes so much better than store bought!

Just keep all the ingredients at hand, at room temperature since this is a fast process and your all set to make caramel.
Watching granulated sugar melt and transform into something so beautiful is the work of chemistry. You don’t need to fret anymore, this recipe is the one! After hunting for days for the perfect recipe, since most Mumbai stores don’t stock on caramel, and the gourmet stores that have them, cost a bomb…I found this recipe..Its simply put, perfect..and yields magnificent results..

If you don’t get it right in the first instance (which seems highly improbable) start over. Its just one cup of sugar that’s lost.
If you feel a little apprehensive , pour in a little water with the sugar. Although it will be a slower process, as the water will need to evaporate before the sugar starts to caremalize. I’m posting step-by-step pictures at every stage of the melting process, to give you a better idea of how this should look.

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp butter
A tad of vanilla extract (Optional)

Recipe:
Take a heavy bottomed pan with high sides ( trust me, you’ll need it) and pour in the sugar.
On the lowest possible setting, let the sugar melt. In picture number 1, the granulated sugar.
As soon as the sugar starts to melt, start mixing it with a whisk or wooden spoon.
Pictures 2,3,4 the various stages of sugar after around 3-4 minutes. Very initial.

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Pictures 5,6,7,8 when the sugar is almost melted, and beginning to get a certain amberish hue..

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As soon as the sugar completely melts (Picture No 8) , stop mixing. A few sugar granules is acceptable.
Occasionally tilt the pan, for even heating .
When it is completely melted and reaches a deep amber color (Picture No 9), add in the butter and allow it to melt.( Pic No 10)

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Immediately take it off the heat.
Wait for around 5-6 seconds and pour in the heavy cream. (pic number 11)
As soon as you pour it, the mixture will start to bubble and foam up considerably. That’s the reason why you need the pan with high sides!

Mix evenly, until the cream has completely melted, and there are no streaks of white anymore . Add in the vanilla.

Do Not under any condition touch this mixture at any time during the procedure. The solution has double the temperature of boiling water. Hot enough to burn you very badly. This happened to me, and it took almost a month for my index finger to heal .

Let the mixture cool, and transfer to a bottle.
To use, reheat it in the microwave for around 10 seconds, since the caramel thickens once its cold.
Store in the refrigerator for upto two weeks.

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The Busy Day Cake

The reason why I call it THE Busy Day Cake is that there is no other recipe that can be quicker than this. Not that I’m a very busy person. Sometimes(Everytime) , I just get a little too lazy. I don’t feel like separating the egg whites, beating the yellows with sugars, and sifting and sifting for that light cake.
Maybe I just want a cake that will fulfill my sweet tooth without me putting in efforts. Or maybe I am too busy to make.(Lie)
Whatever your reason is, don’t think that this cake isn’t top notch . Pair it with some fresh whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, and your over indulging yourself . And who doesn’t have a box of biscuits and some chocolate flavored drink at home eh?  Yep, that’s what this cake requires. Sorta!

I have made this over a dozen times (out of sheer laziness, yes)
As I made it again, I’d thought I’ll post this quickie for you and share this super duper recipe.
Its good to be lil lazy!

Ingredients:
1 packet chocolate biscuits ( I used Britannia’s bourbon)
1 packet plain Marie biscuits
3 tbsp Bournvita
Pinch of soda bicarbonate
1 cup milk or water

Recipe :
Grind the Bourbon and Marie biscuits. Add in the Bournvita or any chocolate flavored drink. Pour the milk or water and mix well.

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After it is completely mixed, add in the soda and immediately pour into an 8 inch greased baking pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes at 176℃ or until done.

Pair with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Serve warm.
Now, be happily lazy .

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Marshmallows

I’m not a fan of marshmallows. No, really. They have never really caught my fancy.
I never understood what the fuss was all about . Roasting marshmallows in the campfire, or dipping em in hot chocolate. Still not special enough .. Wherever I had bought marshmallows from, be it from India or lugged along with luggage from USA, I disliked em. I always thought of them as some “meltable” candy/chewing gum.
I decided to change that. Everybody wouldn’t be bonkers about marshmallows if it wasn’t that good. Maybe I got prejudiced a little too soon. I decided I’d make marshmallows at home. No buying em. And then decide. Once and for all. If the store bought ones can’t convince me, maybe MAYBE I could convince ME.

The outcome of my lil experiment?

I am officially a marshmallow fan!
I have hopped on to the bandwagon of the lovers. I’m totally in love with marshmallows now. Infact, I keep popping em in my mouth every now and then.(the hidden compartment)

This recipe makes those fluffy and duh-le-cious marshmallows! Using minimum ingredients that are found in almost every pantry (save the vegetarians, I’m sorry ! This recipe uses gelatin 😦  ) , this recipe is an amalgamation of almost 3 recipes that I have carefully selected. No corn syrup. No maple syrup. No agave nectar. But you will need the electric whisk. I haven’t tried it with the handheld one. So, that’s your call . Give those arms of steel these marshmallows as a reward.

Anyways, I’m not gonna take any more time, and just fire away my recipe now

Ingredients:
2 tbsp gelatin mixed with 3 tbsp very cold water.
2 – 3 cups sugar.
1 cup water .
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar.
Nearly a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Recipe:

First and foremost, put the whisk and the bowl in which you will beat the marshmallows into the freezer. The colder , the better .
Keep the concealed gelatin aside.
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Boil the water and sugar together until it reaches the soft ball stage or registers around 235-240℉.
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Remove from heat.
In the chilled mixing bowl, add the concealed gelatin and slowly pour the sugar syrup.
Make sure you pour slowly as the syrup is very hot and it may burn you.
Add the syrup very slowly while whisking.
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Stir in the vanilla
In around 5-6 minutes at the highest speed, the mixture will start to thicken and almost look like marshmallow creme.
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While the mixture is whisking , on baking sheet spread the mixed powdered sugar and corn starch together.
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Pour the mixture onto this sheet and sprinkle the top with remaining powdered sugar.
This will solidify in around 3 hours, but leave this for an overnight wait outside, covered in a clingfilm.
After that, cut into desired shapes and sprinkle additional sugar if you like on the sides. Or you could just toss the sugar and marshmallows into a ziploc bag and mix.

However before cutting into shapes, I stick this whole sheet in the freezer to let it firm up a lil more, not that the overnight wait doesn’t do that. But, I guess the freezing makes it a lil more “stretchier”
Keep refrigerated for upto a week, and in the freezer for upto a month. Best part is, I don’t need to defrost this if I have saved it in the freezer. This makes em all the more chewier.

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Homemade Condensed Milk

I love condensed milk. There’s something about sweetened condensed milk. The familiar clink when you open a tin of Amul Mithai Mate aka sweetened condensed milk, that shiny layer of milk beckoning you to bliss.
I have eaten too many tins, stolen too many spoonfuls every night, avoided a handful of people while I slowly drank and devoured of what I’m sure is the water of heavens.

After burning too many holes in my very small pockets, and having intense condensed milk cravings every other hour, I decided I would make condensed milk at home. No canned stuff. No more holes. The unmatched satisfaction of seeing what actually goes into making what you eat. And most of it, knowing that there’s nothing that you don’t know about in there.

With this sweetened  condensed milk recipe, I won’t be buying the canned stuff . EVER. I’m sure you won’t too.

This recipe is simple, foolproof and has absolutely no scope to not work out. All you have to do is stir at equal intervals, and for some , two hours may seem really long. But trust me, this is worth the wait. If you’re getting too impatient, you can increase the flame ; however you need to be on your toes constantly because in a split second the milk can scald and leave an unwanted taste.
I prefer keeping my flame on medium low, actually going to the lowest more often.
No risks . And every 10-15 minutes an occasional stir is all that it needs.

Ingredients:
1 litre milk
200 gm sugar
A pinch of soda bicarbonate
[1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water(Optional) ]
3 tbsp butter (Optional)

Recipe:
In a wide bottomed vessel pour the milk and heat it . As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce the flame to the lowest and add the sugar and soda

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The milk should hardly boil at all. Keep stirring this every 5-10 minutes, and after 1 hour, add in the cornflour.
After nearly 2 hours, the mixture would look like this

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Add in the butter and switch of the flame.
Transfer in to an airtight jar once it has cooled. Store as you would store-bought condensed milk

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Homemade condensed milk is ready!
The milk gets thicker as it cools. You can add some milk or water to adjust it to your liking .

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