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The Perfect Potboiler

Milk almost boiling over
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Just like looks can be deceptive, so can captions. From the caption, you must have inferred that this post is a review of some run-of-the-mill movie. Well, this post is not a film review. In order to understand the post you would have to take the title at its face value. What this post is about is what every woman in India (and hopefully some men too!!) can relate to.

Given our penchant for milk in our beverages, any typical day begins with (you got it right!!) boiling milk. Generations of women must have spent half their lives doing this. More so in the case of Indian households where children drink milk. South of the Vindhyas, the agony is only accentuated with curd also being an inseparable part of every meal. In my house, the chore of boiling milk is almost like launching a rocket. I say this because the milk consumed by each of us is different. There is so much to keep track of. The children drink a different brand – purportedly the purest; my husband prefers the tetra pack milk and I stick to the plebian milk which comes in packets. And if that was not enough, there is another brand – a low fat one – for curd! My point is that more the variants of milk and number of milk products consumed on a daily basis, more is the time spent in front of the stove, intently watching the pot containing milk as it boils. The only objective of this supervision is to ensure that the milk does not boil over. What else would you call the perfect potboiler?!

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Milk boiling over during a housewarming ceremony
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The task of overseeing boiling is one of the most thankless tasks in the repertoire of the homemaker. You ask any woman about this and she can rant about this chore endlessly. Somehow, the milk is always smarter than you. Milk, almost like a smart but truant child, knows when exactly to boil over. It could be that split second when you blinked or were in the kitchen multi-tasking. And there – the damage is done!! They say there is no point crying over spilt milk. I would want to modify it and say that there is a lot to cry over milk that has boiled over. The tears are a safety valve so that God endows you with the courage for undertaking the mop-up operation. What bothers you more than the milk that is any way irretrievably lost is the dreary task of cleaning up the stove, the clogged burners and the area around. Milk remnants have a nasty stench and they need to be cleaned thoroughly. The only time you do not need to bother about the milk boiling over is during a housewarming ceremony. But even here, you are only spared the supervision and not the cleaning.

Milk Cooker
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When there are problems, there are endeavours to address them too. Thus, there are contraptions that are used to prevent milk from boiling over. There is the milk cooker. There are quite a few who use it regularly. But personally, somehow, it does not inspire too much confidence. I have used it a few times and have found that It only increases your work as you have to remember to fill the cooker with water. And if you forget to do this, be prepared for catastrophic consequences.

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Milk Watcher
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The other contraptions which are used are the milk watcher and the spill stopper. The first could be made of steel or ceramic. It is placed at the base of the pot in which you are boiling milk and when the milk gets hot enough to boil, the milk watcher starts rattling gently, thereby alerting you. This means that for it to serve the purpose, you have to be in the vicinity so that you can hear the rattle. The reviews about this are rather mixed. Its utility also depends on the size of the pot and that of the milk watcher.

Spill Stopper
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The other contraption is the spill stopper. It is placed on top of the pot in which milk is being boiled and it prevents the milk from spilling over on account of its shape. This is made of silicone; the jury is till out on whether silicone is toxic or not. Since I am not comfortable using silicone on my milk pot, I do not think of this as a viable option.

Brass tumbler for filter coffee
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Tea in Kulhad
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I hope all those who have boiled milk the traditional way would empathize with me. There is no escaping the drudgery of overseeing the pot of boiling milk if you want your refreshing cup of milky tea or coffee made in the conventional way. For the others, of course, there are the more colorful variants like green tea and black coffee! However, I would any day prefer the perfect potboiler!!

2 thoughts on “The Perfect Potboiler

  1. Very well written! I can empathize with all aspects of this thankless task. I have often sacrificed the taste of freshly-made coffee for the insipid beverage produced by heating milk in the microwave!


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