Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nei(Ghee) Payasam

Nei payasam takes me back to childhood and the Guruvayurappan temple in  Kerala, where it's served as prasadam(blessed food).  We arrived late and got to eat nei payasam prasadam on plantain leaves served by volunteers.  The temple was having a big celebration with elephants and drums and music.
It is also made for Bhagawati sevai puja, a religious function performed for the good of the family and the home.  This puja is performed annually by my sisters family.  I remember her mother-in-law making the decadent and delicious nei payasam in a huge metal urali(vessel/pan) placed over a kerosene stove.  The whole family taking turns to stir the payasam, it was a collaborative effort and the whole family came together to help. The mere thought has me drooling for some. 

Garnished with powdered cardamom(Elaichi)

Knowing how much I loved it, mom improvised the long, hard and time consuming recipe to a much simpler one.  So here goes, Nei payasam in my dysfunctional cooking style.

  •  3 to 4 tbsp - Ghee(nei)
  •  2 cups Jaggery(grate for easy melting)
  •  1 cup water (to melt jaggery)
  •  1 cup cooked basmati rice  (any variety, cooled and separated)
  •  1/4 cup golden raisins(kismish)
  •  1/4 cup broken cashews or slivered Almonds
  •  a pinch or two of elaichi (cardamom) powder 
  1. Heat the water and jaggery and bring it to a slow boil. Allow the jaggery to melt completely, stir continuously otherwise it will burn (2-4 minutes)
  2. Continue stirring on medium heat until it starts to thicken (4-5 minutes)
  3. In another pan (wok) heat 2-3 tbsp ghee and stir in the rice
  4. Stir fry for a couple of minutes
  5. Add in the jaggery and stir well
  6. Cook while stirring continuously until the ghee starts to glisten on the surface as seen in the picture (7-8 minutes)
  7. Heat a tbsp ghee in a small pan, first roast the raisins, remove them with a spoon and add to payasam
  8. Roast the cashew in the same ghee and add to payasam. 
  9. Top with the elaichi powder and mix well
  10. Enjoy delicious Nei payasam.  It is very rich so you can't eat a lot like sweet pongal.  it will stay good for a week or two in the refrigerator 
Served and ready to eat..

Notes: You could garnish with coconut slivers roasted in ghee and a pinch or two of dry ginger powder have seen mom use them on occasion.  I like the cashews and raisins to be soft and incorporated so I add them halfway in step 6 so they could also absorb some of the moisture.

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