January 13, 2015

Pal Payasam - Rice Kheer - Rice Pudding

Pal Payasam (or) Rice Kheer is the quintessential dessert of Indian cuisine. Traditionally, ghee-roasted rice is simmered in reduced milk, flavored with cardamom & saffron, garnished with nuts & raisins. When making rice kheer, major time & effort is spent on cooking milk until it reduces half its volume, so the dessert is sinfully rich & creamy!

In India, festivals and celebrations are incomplete without the rice kheer. Rice kheer is one of the most popular and sought-after dessert across the country, but with different names and slighter variations depending on the region where it is being prepared.

Surprisingly, rice kheer is also one of the simplest desserts, where rice is cooked in milk by slowly simmering for hours, and thereby achieving a creamy, custard-like consistency. Aval payasam (poha/beaten rice), vermicelli payasam, semolina payasam, sago payasam are just easier versions of rice kheer! Some even use broken rice for faster cooking & better tasting.

This recipe however has an interesting twist to the traditional one - in addition to milk, this recipe also uses ground paste of nuts & raisins, which not only gives richness to the kheer, but also enhances its taste by many folds. A spoonful of thick & creamy kheer, subtly flavored with cardamom & saffron, garnished with lots of nuts & raisins, will win all your hearts.. So, enjoy!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 1 hr (pressure cooking rice & boiling milk)
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 4

1/4 cup Rice, I used sona masoori
3/4 cup Milk, I used 2% milk fat

1/3 cup Mixed Nuts & Raisins
2 cups Milk, I used 2% milk fat

1/3 cup Sugar

a pinch of Saffron soaked in 1/8 cup of warm milk
Seeds from 3 Cardamom pods, powdered
2 tsp Ghee
1/8 cup Mixed Nuts & Raisins, for garnish

Soak 1/3 cups of mixed nuts & raisins in 1/8 cup of milk for 20 mins. Using a mixer, blend the nuts into fine & thick paste. Use water if required. Set it aside.

In a thick bottomed pan, bring 2 cups of milk to a boil and let it simmer on low heat for 30 mins. Stir constantly to prevent sticking/burning of milk at the bottom of the pan. Set it aside.

Heat 1 tsp of ghee and fry 1/8 cup of mixed nuts until golden brown; raisins until plump. Chop the nuts and raisins into fine pieces and set aside.

Wash and drain the rice. Heat 1 tsp of ghee, toast rice until crisp. Do not let rice to change its color. Pressure cook rice with 3/4 cups of milk on medium heat for 3-4 whistles and let it cool. When cold, mash the rice really well.

Mix mashed rice, milk, nut paste, sugar and bring it to a boil on medium heat. Stir constantly to prevent sticking/burning of milk at the bottom of the pan. Add crushed cardamom, saffron milk and mix well. Garnish with fried nuts & raisins and serve hot/cold.

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