Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Payash (Rice pudding)....
In eastern India winter is time to eat lost of home made sweet... Rasogollas and rasamalai do not count as home made and they are available throughout the year in the corner sweet shop at your neighbourhood! So it is time for making lots of different kinds of rice based sweets such as puli pithas and patisapta and payasah. New paddy gets harvested during this time of the year along with the khejure'r gur (date palm jagery) which is one the delicacies of Bengal. Traditionally rice pudding is used as a sweet made for birthday.. an equivalent of birthday cakes in the West!
This rice pudding is very different from the rice pudding in the Western culinary one... In fact, Indian rice pudding did not use egg. Here milk is boiled over simmering heat for a long time so that it is thick! Aromatic Rice (in Bengal they prefer short grain Gobindobhog or Kalijira rice) is generally used to make the Bengali style payash. There are other versions all over the India and anme ranged form Khreer in Northern part of the subcontinent to Payasam in the South. I used my mother's recipe with modifications for this one! Nalen gur/khejure'r gur is not available in the US of A easily unless you happened to live near a Bangladeshi grocery store! I find the flavor of maple syrup is very similar to khejur gur and hence substitute gur with Grade A maple syrup! Technically, they both are sap from plants. Both khejur gur and maple syrup are the sweet watery saps of the plants that are tapped from the tree trunks and then boiled for a long time to thicken it.
One of my best memories of childhood days is drinking kehur ras early in the morning at my uncle's house in the village near Bangladesh border. After the partition of Bengal in 1947, my father's family moved to West Bengal and bought some land in a village. We used to wait for the winter brake to go to my uncle's house! And then my grandma and uncle would fire the big fuelwood chulah (stove) outside in the corner of the courtyard to cook the sap in huge iron karhai (wok) for hours! We kids would hover around to see the boiling bubbling sap and taste the new hot liquid gur. Finally they would make the hard one (patali gur) and dry it the sun for couple of days before packing it up to send it to other relatives' house. They liquid gur (we call jhola gur) would be tightly sealed in terracotta pots in which they collect the sap for next few months' use. I love winter for the khejur ras and gur!
Recipe is here:
3 liter of whole milk
0.5 liter of half and half
Kalijira rice 250 grams
Raw cane sugar 250 grams or to taste
Maple syrup couple of table spoons
Raisins, cashew, pistachio and almonds (these are optional) a handful
small cardamom 2
bay leaf 1 or 2
I boil the milk in low heat for at least half an hour. I add cardamom and bay leaves while boiling the milk. Add the washed rice and let it cooked. You have to stir it a lot while cooking so that milk does not get stuck in the bottom of the pan. Once the rice is cooked, you can add sugar and raisins and other nuts and let it boil in low heat for another half an hour or so.Add maple syrup at the end to get the nice smell! you an serve it warm or cool and can be kept for a few days in the refrigerator! And please add your own recipes here in the comments....