It has been a while since we posted old recipes, hasn’t it? Hopefully, this one will change that and intrigue you enough to be included in your collection of ‘antiquities’. Valiyachen (my maternal grandfather) handed down this recipe for payasam to my father. Well, there is no hand-written-yellowed copy of this recipe to boast. However, like all Indian recipes learned by observing. My father learned it from –Valiyachen- and my sister and me from our father. And now, it makes me quite happy to share this treasure with you. Life cycle of a recipe! Huh!
I cannot help but say a little more about Valyachen. He was an avid cook. He was so good; I think he was better than my granny or mom. (I will have to convince my mom I don’t mean that). Valiyachen's industry is well known; running a business, laboring in the paddy-fields with the workers, cultivating thil/gingely/ellu and beans (urad) as in-between crops (crops done in-between paddy season), and cooking too. He was multi-talented. The thil (sesame) yielded from his fields he made into ellundas(jiggery sweetened sesame balls). From the yard – kitchen- mouth, can you imagine! Oh! The taste!
We lost him to cancer when I was just knee high. His memory thankfully is still fresh in my mind. Conversely, his image flashes in my mind like a framed painting; young man standing tall in his white dothi and plaid shirt, both hands busy with totes brimming with goodies, like ellunda,achappam ,upperi etc. His smile was the brightest growing ear to ear spotting us running to him when he visited. He adored and spoiled us and we loved him back with equal strength. I tell you, it amazes me even today how, in a male dominated society he was such a gentleman helping granny in the kitchen and being so adorable all at once.
My mom says grandpa made payasam, whenever it took his fancy. He never bothered to have a reason to celebrate (which is generally when payasam is made). My father takes this cue and does the same these days. I encourage you to do the same.
During my vacation in Kerala we cooked some together, reminiscing about Valiyachen and had a pleasant time. Whilst my children were making their childhood memories I refreshed some of mine!
I agree there is no need for a reason to make payasam but this post coincides with my sister and her daughter’s birthday. Therefore I take this opportunity to wish them both all the love and happiness. Chechi (as my sister calls me) is sharing this payasam with you all to celebrate my lil sister.
On a different note, there was a big wildfire in Boulder 2 days back. Some of you might have seen it on tv.Many families lost their houses though almost everyone is safe.About 3,500 acres is burned,8 people are missing and 90 structures are charred. All good thoughts and wishes to those who are affected and the firefighters who worked continuously for 2 days.
Jaggery/Sarkkara- 200g/1 1/2 cup(1 medium sized ball)
Ghee-1 Tbsp+1 Tbsp
Coconut milk(first pressed milk)-From one med size coconut
Coconut milk(second pressed milk)-From one med size coconut(~4 cups)
Cumin/jeera powder-1 tsp
Cardamom powder-1/4 tsp
Dry Ginger powder-1 tsp
1.Heat ghee and fry the aval till it turns golden brown by stirring continuously.
2.Melt jaggery after adding 2-3 Tbsp of water and sieve it n another pan.
3.Keep a thick bottom pan and pour the melted jaggery into it. Once it is heated up, add the fried aval and stir it continuously for about 20-25 minutes. Add a little more ghee in between.This is to combine aval and jaggery well.
4.Add the second pressed milk and cook well, stir continuously.This may take about 5-6 minutes.The consistency should be sightly on the watery side. Otherwise it gets thicker after you add the first pressed milk and the spices.
5.Meanwhile mix together the first pressed milk and all the spices without any lumps.
6.Switch off the heat and add the coconut milk mixture and mix well.
7.Fry the cashews and raisins in ghee and add into the payasam.
1.We used the Brown aval, but you could use the white one too,but use the thicker one.
2.You could replace a part of the coconut milk with the regular milk.
3.If you have never made fresh coconut milk, this note is for you :-).You have to squeeze so hard to take out the fresh first pressed coconut milk without adding any water. Once you are done with this, add a few spoons of warm water and grind it in a mixer or blender and press out the second coconut milk through a sieve.