Reprinted from http://mydhaba.blogspot.com. Copyright © 2005 by VK Narayanan
I dont have a sweet tooth really, but once in a while I get this intense urge for a traditional dessert. Ok, dessert as such is not an Indian concept in the sense that sweets arent served separately at the end of a meal - they're usually part of it. Cakes, muffins and other western sweets and desserts are nice enough, but the rich creamy milky sweetness of kheer and payasam is something else again. The best part of it for me is the aroma of cardamom... warm, sweet, inviting and redolent of everything good!
This recipe is courtesy of VKN of My Dhaba. I saw the recipe on his blog at just the right moment for the impulsive decision to make it rightaway. All I did was halve the quantity of ingredients. It seemed perfect, and it was - perfect in quantity, in simplicity and in taste. And best of all, it used ingredients that can be found at any given time in most Indian pantries - aval or poha (beaten rice), cardamom, milk, cashew nuts, ghee and raisins. Since aval is so easily cooked, there was no need for pressure-cooking or soaking anything.
I absolutely LOVED this payasam. Of course, it could have been because I hadnt had any payasam in months and was really craving some, but I'm pretty sure that wasnt the only reason, or even the deciding one. The payasam was wonderful because of the recipe. The quantity turned out just right, too - just right for one greedy cook, that is. Two helpings and it was all gone. Mmmmm....
Recipe for: Aval payasam
1/2 cup poha/aval (beaten rice)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup hot milk
7-8 cashew nuts
Seeds of 3 cardamoms, finely powdered
3-4 strands saffron (optional), soaked for 10 minutes in 2 tbsp hot milk
1 tbsp raisins
1 tsp ghee
1-1/2 cups water
1. Heat the ghee in a pan and fry the cashewnuts to a golden colour. Remove from ghee and reserve.
2. Fry the raisins in the same pan until they're puffed and golden. Remove from ghee and reserve.
3. In the remaining ghee, fry the aval/poha till it turns crisp and golden brown. Remove and reserve.
4. Add 1-1/2 cups water to the pan and bring it to a boil (I boiled the water in my kettle while frying the aval, to speed up things). Add the roasted aval/poha to it.
5. Simmer till the poha breaks down and becomes soft. Add the sugar and stir till dissolved.
6. Now add the hot milk and the saffron-soaked milk to the poha and simmer over medium heat till it thickens. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Keep stirring often so that it doesnt form a skin on top.
7. Add the fried raisins, cashewnuts and cardamom powder, stir well, then turn off the heat.
Let the payasam sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold (if you can wait that long).