During Onam, one of our Hindu colleagues in the head office distributed paayasam – the Malayalam word for “kheer” – to everybody in the office. In fact, this was the first time she was doing it. As we were enjoying the payasam, I got a call from a colleague in another department. I have always mentioned that I keep baking or cooking and bringing them to office, but the distribution is always limited to the little bunch in my department. Very rarely, I have distributed to all, in fact on two instances, one time when I baked the Coffee Cardamom Marble Cake and the other time was with the Carrot Rice Kheer. Cooking for almost 40 people is not a joke, right? So I always try to avoid it. But when this colleague, who is like a brother to me, called and complained that he has never ever had a taste of my hand made food, I was a bit shocked. And it was true, he was in the warehouse both the time when I had cooked. Unfortunately, though I made double the paayasam and bought it to office for all, he was still in the warehouse and thanks to the lousy storage of our office boy, the paayasam turned sour! 🙁 I felt really sad that the person who I had intended it for could not get a taste of it. I have already told him, that InShaAllah once my kitchen gets 100% active, I am going to make some quantity exclusively for him! 🙂
OK, that was a long story. Paal payasam is a very basic payasam but there is a little knack of it. You have to cook the rice so much in the milk that it gets a very light pink tinge. I was hunting for a recipe that would provide me that tinge and I landed up on this one, unfortunately I forgot to mark the page and I feel so bad about it! I have cooked paal payasam many times but though it would taste good, I would never get that pink hue. This one had, though the pictures aren’t good enough to capture it. It was that light… I must say that this is definitely the best way I have made it and InShaAllah will continue making it the same way in the future as well. For an extra crunch, I have added sago pearls (savoonari as we call it) and it took it to another level. If you don’t like it, you can very well leave it out as it is not part of the original way of making it. Off to the way I do it…
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 liter full fat milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sago (optional but recommended)
1 tbsp ghee
10-15 cashew nuts
Wash the rice well. Soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain. Soak the sago in water for 30 minutes and drain.
Add half the milk, the water, cardamom powder and the rice into a cooker, without the weight. Close the lid, and keep on medium flame till steam comes from the top. Lower the flame to minimum, put on the weight. Leave it like that for 40-45 minutes. The pressure should not go and do not allow it to whistle. If it does, then switch off for some time, and then switch on and cook further on simmer. My cooker did not whistle.
Switch off and allow the pressure to go by itself. Meanwhile, cook the sago in lots of water till transparent. Drain into a colander and wash nicely in cold water. Reserve.
Open the cooker, you will see a nice pink rice mash (the yippee moment!!!). Mix well, add the remaining milk and sugar. Stir and cook on low flame. Add the sago and mix. Just cook till the mixture is hot.
Heat ghee, fry the cashews and puff up the raisins. Pour into the payasam and mix. Enjoy hot or cold, both ways, it is delicious!
1. Normally sago is not a part of this payasam. But for an extra crunch, I added it and it tasted awesome! You can avoid it if you don’t like.
2. You can serve the paal payasam without the tempering as well.