What does hospitality look like to you?
Hospitality is a huge cultural value in India. I've learned much about what it means to be hospitable through open homes and spontaneous visits. It's said that acquaintances make an appointment to visit, but family and close friends show up unannounced! Albeit, I didn't really appreciate it when somebody walked straight into my house and found me in the kitchen or bedroom. This has happened three times (!). I now know to keep the front screen door locked.
I love visiting families in India but never empty-handed. A special aspect of hospitality in India is giving a gift to the host. This is a formality, and close friends do not give gifts when visiting one another. Call me formal, but I always like to give a gift to the family. Actually it's an excuse to bake and get it out of my house.
Baked goods is a HUGE treat in India, as the vast majority of Indian homes don't have an oven. I've learned that Indians go absolutely mad over chocolate. No need to waste time baking anything that doesn't have chocolate in it.
So here's one of my most popular sweets for visiting. Hello Dollies. Seven Layered Bars. Let's just call it heaven....
Seven Layered Bars
1/2 cup butter, melted (120 ml)
1 cup graham cracker or cookie crumbs (250 ml) - I use cashew nut biscuits
1 cup chocolate chips (250 ml)
1 cup sweetened coconut (250 ml)
1 cup chopped nuts (250 ml) - I use pecans
1 3/4 sweetened condensed milk (430 ml)
1. Layer in order given in a 9x9 pan.
2. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 30 minutes.
3. Cut into bars.
Photo Credit: katerha via Compfight cc