I was introduced to shrikhands by the family of one of my best-est friends in school, Vaishali. We have been friends forever, it seems. And from a very young age we visited each others' houses. They were vegetarians and Aunty (I sometimes also call her Aai, meaning 'mother' in Marathi) was a fantastic cook. Uncle was a flight engineer and used to be travelling often. He would bring back pears, plums and peaches and other exotic fruits after his flights out of the city. He always ensured he got some for me too. Nani (Vaishali's grandmother) was a sweetheart. She was a lively and sprightly grand old lady who remained active throughout her life and loved to share stories with us.
Anyway, coming back to Aunty and her cooking. It was in this home that I first tasted dhansak (a veg version of course but I was not fussy), beetroot raita (a favourite I make even now), poha (aunty taught me that) and countless other "strange" vegetables that I did not encounter in my own home. And of course, Aunty made the most amazing Shrikhand ever. I sometimes buy the Amul one you get in the shops but that THING is not there. You know what I mean? Aunty cooked everything herself. Right from the melt-in-your-mouth chapatis (with butter) and the rice and the papad and the salad and the chaats, even.
I used to look forward to the meals and the easy hospitality where I was welcomed with open arms. In fact, when I joined the profession, my Chamber was near Vaishali's house. Vaishali herself was then posted in Jaipur after having done her Hotel Management and joining the Taj Group of Hotels. Often, instead of eating at home, I would drop in and visit Uncle and Aunty, share their dinner and head off to Chambers. Aunty and Uncle always welcomed me with open arms but then they moved to Pune ten years ago...so unfortunately I've had to change that habit of mine, but I fondly remember those days of our youth. And it gives me joy.
I will never try to make shrikhand. I do believe some things should be left for another hand. I can never hope to replicate that yummy creaminess. And I know that the best shrikhand in the world can only be made by Aunty, but if anyone is willing to try, here's a recipe, that, despite being time consuming, looks do-able: