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Friday, May 9, 2014

Pal Payasam

A yummy payasam 'rice pudding' recipe from Tamil Nadu. Made on auspicious occasions like Gokulasthami, it takes hours to get it right when done in the traditional method. And the added danger in this method it that one cannot leave it unattended as the rice and milk mixture tends to catch/burn easily.

I felt that this one is very close in preparation method to the 'Bhaja Chaula Kheeri'. However, people in Odisha usually add some sugar in the beginning which gets caramelized and adds a distinct flavor to the kheer. Also, it it more fluid as compared to the Kheer made in Odisha or in the North. And the rice grains in payasam remain conspicuous  in comparison to kheer wherein the grains almost melt and become indistinguishable. ( I tend to remember the last bit in a very clear manner as it had led to an embarrassing situation. One of my Tamil neighbors had offered me some still hot kheer and i promptly blurted out after tasting it ." G...,I think it needs to be cooked for some more time. Did you switch off the gas because the baby woke up ??", I said. It was a bit awkward as she stared at my face. It took some explanation from her side to make me realize what payasam would actually taste/appear like.

Read on  -

Preparation Time - 40-50 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 liter full cream milk
  • 1/4 cup basmati rice or any fragrant rice ( I have used Seeraga Samba rice )
  • 1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup condensed milk
  • 2-3 green cardamoms (crushed)
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • few cashews
  • few raisins

Preparation - Wash and soak the rice for 1 hour. Strain through a thin cloth to drain off excess water .

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a thick bottomed vessel. Add cashews and raisins. As the raisins swell up, remove and keep aside. Next add the rice and fry till fragrant. Switch off the flame.

Add about 1 1/2 cup of milk to a pressure cooker and stir in the rice. Switch on the flame. Cook on low till the rice gets cooked (3-4 whistles).

While the rice is being cooked, boil and reduce the remaining milk to half in a separate vessel.

Add the reduced milk to the rice, stir in sugar, crushed cardamoms, cashews and raisins. Cook for another 6-7 minutes. (DO NOT LEAVE IT UNATTENDED AT THIS STAGE)

Finally stir in the condensed milk and switch off the flame. Allow it to cool down a bit before serving (It can also be served chilled).

Garnish with some cashews and serve.

Note - Use of condensed milk is optional but it gives a nice texture and richness to the payasam. (And if you have wondering why it takes 3-4 whistles to cook the rice, cooking with milk takes a little longer when compared to cooking with water.)

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