Thursday, 3 June 2010

Rice pudding (Payesh)

About the food:
This is a traditional Indian dessert. What a birthday cake is to the western world, the rice pudding is to the states in south-east India, specially among the Bengalis. This dish has a special place in the hearts of the Bengalis: I cherish the memories when my mom used to make the payesh, as what it is called in bengali, on my birthdays. Having stayed abroad, I miss this occasion even more and my heart aches to get a bowl of payesh made by my mom on the special day.

I have used govindabhog rice for this dish, but unfortunately I did not find it anywhere in London. So every time I go to India I bring my supplies of rice. When I am out of the stock, I have to rely on my kind friends and relatives flying here from India. So, assuming you might not get this rice, go for the pudding rice which are available in all supermarkets.

Preparing this dish needs much patience and is laborious. One has to constantly stir the milk, making sure it does not stick to the base of pan, burn or spill out of the pan. This means you cannot leave the hob for a moment until it is done. Making a payesh without spilling the milk out of the pan demanding, and I admit, I have never been successful in that! But do not worry, other than this bit, it is fairly easy to make. only the other trick lies in the quantities of rice to milk, and the rice when done, should not be hard and yet not too soft.

Preparation time:10 mins
Cooking time: 1 hrs

Ingredients: serves 5

1 litre whole milk
Two small handful of govindabhog rice or pudding rice
2 bayleaves
5-6 cardamom
1/2 bowl cashew nuts, chopped in small pieces
10-12 pistachhio nuts, chopped in small pieces
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kewra water
1/2 small bowl raisins, washed


1. Pour the milk in a big pan, and bring it boil. Add the bayleaves and the cardamoms. Lower the flame, uncover and keep it simmering. The milk should reduce to less than 1/2 of its original volume. Keep in stirring, so that it does not stick to the base of the pan.

2.Meanwhile, wash and drain the rice. When the milk has been halved, add the rice. Add the raisins, sugar and the kewra water. Keep it on low flame, stirring every now and then, until the rice has been cooked. Be aware that the pudding would thicken when cooled.

3. Add the cashew nuts, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Put it in a serving bowl immediately, as the pudding would thicken and you might not be able to serve without breaking the pudding in pieces. chill in a refrigerator for 2-3 hrs.

5. Garnish with the pistachhio nuts and serve chilled.

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