Friday, April 15, 2011

Sweet Beginnings - Paal payasam - Milk 'n rice pudding

The blog has been silent for a while now.....and this time, it is not without reason. I have moved from one city to another and have been busy setting up our new home and getting accustomed to a new language and new surroundings.
The first festival that we celebrate in this home is Vishu - the first day of the Malayalam month Medam. Wiki has more information on how Vishu is celebrated. I have talked about the Vishu of my childhood in this post.
No celebration of an Indian festival is complete without a sweet dish. Vishu is no exception. Traditionally, payasam is made and offered to God. Vishnu being the presiding deity of this festival, I decided to make his favourite - paal payasam.

What you need:
Payasam rice - a handful (This is a special kind of broken matta rice that is available in Kerala or in Kerala stores. In the absence of this, you can use raw rice)
Milk - 1 litre
Sugar - 1 cup, heaped (adjust to taste)

Wash rice well. Add milk to it and cook in a pressure cooker until one whistle and then reduce the flame to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Switch off heat and let the steam settle down.
Open the lid carefully....stir well and add sugar. On low heat, let the payasam cook further until it starts thickening and develops a pinkish colour. This will take a good 30 to 45 minutes. Make sure that the heat is low and that you stir once in a while.
Usually, cardamom powder,nuts, or raisins are not added to paal payasam as it is said to deter from the taste. I have stuck to that rule and kept the payasam simple.