I was watching television the other day and happened on a show on the Dutch donuts. Now a few years ago I might have laughed at the silliness of it all. But not today. For one food is a cause of joy for me. It has saved me in this strange (but wonderful) foreign land.
All over the country, at this time of the year, oliebollen stands will pop up at every nook and cranny. It is a tradition and a wonderful one and if you have ever been to Holland you will know of it. The show was about judging the quality of the oliebollen sold at these hundreds of stands in Holland. And they took it all so seriously!
It is so important to have that purpose in life, let it be making the best donut if it may. To find that joy in eating one even if you can’t make one. For so long I was in that stride to make some sort of career but after coming here to Holland I was suddenly at crossroads without a choice. Suddenly that purpose or at least the illusion of it was taken away.
I have long sought the meaning of life. Could it be that I am missing life itself as I strive to understand it? My dearest friend warned me of that today. As a woman having grown up in a society that fundamentally sets all sorts of morals only on women, I have also striven to break free of sets of rules that make no sense to me. Yet, I somehow seem to also fall back on them. The constant battle between my heart and mind.
My quest for the meaning of life and my place in it.
As my very favorite author Albert Camus says, “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Till today my happiness has comprised of all those tiny principles I have built up over time and stored so preciously and shielded my heart with. I don’t think I can just shed them away. I don’t even want to. But could it really be as my best friend pointed out that I’m looking at it all wrong? If it really does end one day, is it really smart to let principles win over me?
In my strive for a perfect scenario constructed by me, I have missed not only making but also eating that perfect donut. Lets change that today…
Some people believe that the oliebollen are the predecessors to the present day donuts. That Dutch settlers left the recipe behind in America and over time it got morphed to what the traditional donut looks like today. I like to believe that story! It has so much romance in it. :)
I of course needed to make it a little Indian. So, I added some saffron and some cardamom to them. They came out delicious!
makes 20-25 donuts
500 grams all purpose flour
125 grams raisins
1/4 tsp saffron
seeds from 4 cardamom pods, crushed
500 ml buttermilk
14 grams active dry yeast
3 tbsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1 liter oil, for deep frying
In a bowl, soak the raisins in hot water for 15 minutes.
In the meanwhile carefully warm the buttermilk in a non stick pan, till lukewarm. In a small bowl take a tablespoon of the buttermilk and soak the saffron and cardamom for a few minutes.
In a separate bowl mix the yeast and the sugar. Pour the warm buttermilk over and mix.
Sieve the saffron infused buttermilk into the yeast mix.
Sieve the flour over (yet another) bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour and add the egg and the yeast mix. Add the salt as well. Mix with a wooden ladle, till it all comes together.
Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for an hour.
Heat the oil (on high) in a big pan or wok till it reaches about 180°C. I didn’t use a thermometer but just tested it by dropping a bit of the donut mix. If it sizzles and rises it is ready. Then lower the heat to medium. This way it will keep a steady temperature and not get too hot.
Form a rough ball with a serving spoon and drop into the oil. The dough with puff up and roll around in the oil. A few minutes on each side are plenty. Make sure they are nice and golden brown.
Once done let dry on some paper towels and serve with lots of powdered sugar!