This month I am focusing on a traditional dessert that is a central part of the Indian culture. Payasam is traditionally made with boiled milk, a starch like rice or wheat, and sugar then flavored in a variety of different ways.
It is given as an offering to the gods in south Indian Hindu temples as well as served at all important south Indian celebrations and important occasions, including birthdays and weddings, and feasts. Serving Payasam is considered a sign of hospitality and welcome in Indian households. Kachi served it to me when I first visited her home in Madras after my wedding. It meant that her family welcomed me into their family. It can also be served at tea time as a special treat. I have been told that the rice pudding made in England today derived from Payasam a thousand years ago when traders took rice to Europe.
There are many different varieties of Payasam that are made with different ingredients. It is typically made by:
boiling milk with sugar,
adding rice, wheat (vermicelli) or lentils , and
flavoring it with cardamom, raisins, saffron, and/or nuts.
Two delicious recipes are featured for July.
Pal Payasam Recipe
A very simple and easy to make Payasam, called Pal Payasam, is made with mike, rice and sugar. I am including both the traditional method of making it as well as one that has been adapted to use the microwave oven and is really easy to make.
Semiya Payasam Recipe
Another, Semiya Payasam (Vermicelli Payasam), is made with boiled milk, vermicelli noodles, cardamom, cashews and saffron. This recipe is my favorite and is served for our family birthdays.
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