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Food Porn! Payasam

Because I know that lcohen, rhobike, and canyon_lady will appreciate it, here is Payasam, a rice pudding from Kerala, on the southwestern coast of India. The recipe comes from The Ethnomusicologists' Cookbook. I make it with two slight adjustments to the original recipe.

Shown here are the ingredients: 3 tablespoons of raisins (I use golden raisins because I like them better than dark raisins, but the recipe does not specify), 3 tablespoons of cashews, cardamom, 5 tablespoons of rice (this is the first adjustment; the original recipe only calls for 4 tablespoons), vegetable oil (the second adjustment; the original recipe calls for ghee), milk, and 1/3 cup of sugar.

First thing you do is you chop up the cashews. I like to do it by wrapping them in a little pouch of plastic wrap and then whapping them with a kitchen mallet a few times to break them up. It's very satisfying.

Then you heat about a tablespoon or so of oil or ghee in a frying pan and fry the raisins and cashews until the cashews start to turn brown. They do this faster than you expect, so be prepared to yell "oh, shit!" and turn off the flame suddenly.

Scoop those into a bowl and set them aside. Put the rice in a pot along with a quart of milk.

Bring that to a boil, being careful not to let it foam up over the top of the pot. (If it does, see the procedure above for rescuing the raisins and cashews from burning.)

Turn the flame down to a simmer and let that pot cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is soft, giving it the occasional stir.

Add in the sugar, 1/2 tsp cardamom, and the raisins and cashews.

Mix it up.

Then let it simmer and cook down to a thick pudding-y texture. The book says this takes at least 90 minutes, but I've found that it takes less than half that. It may be the extra tablespoonful of rice; at the very least, this results in a thicker, ricier texture than it would with only four tablespoons, but I like the texture of more rice. You can experiment and see how you like it.

Turn it out into a nice serving dish, like a glass pie plate. Listen to the "yummy" noises that your friends make as they eat it.


Jan. 27th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC)
I think you must have mentioned payasam recently because I remember looking for recipies--and stopping dead at ghee. I wouldn't know where to get that around here, and I'm not likely to make my own. So the substitution of vegetable oil makes me much more likely to make this. Once I have raisins. And cashews. And cardamon.
Jan. 27th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
lcohen says that when she has a recipe that calls for ghee, she uses plain butter, and it works well for her. Ghee is just clarified butter, I think, and really, in this recipe, it's just a frying medium. The vegetable oil seemed to me to be a nice, cheap, neutral frying fat, and so far, the pudding tastes good.
Jan. 28th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
That seems reasonable (substituting butter for ghee). I know ghee is just clarified butter, and it's probably not even that difficult to make. It's just one of those things I have a mental block about (like seeing the word "yeast" in a recipe; I run in the other direction).


by Illsaysheis

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