Ah! A new year is already here.. where did the year go?
In the Malayalam new year, which begins with Vishu, the big deal is Vishu kani... the auspicious first thing that you see when you wake up which sets the tone for the rest of the year... a prosperous year, a healthy year, a happy year.. all the usual trappings we yearn for. For those who want to know more, there is a link above to the vishu custom. The concept creates quite a treasury of material for jokes in the layman's language and the malayalam movie industry. Anybody remember Meesha Madhavan? If your day doesn't go well, the common question is, " Who did you see as kani in the morning?"
Alas, for the New years day, there is no such symbolism.. just a late awakening, still recovering from whatever late night party you happened to be at...legs aching if u were at a dance, head abuzz with a medley of sounds and voices, a hangover for many.... quite a somber beginning to a new year!!
For me the first post of the year is always a dilemma. I want it to be short, sweet, crisp.. it should be inspiring, joyful and poetic, like one of the verses on New Year's cards. (Does anybody send cards to anyone now? Does anyone collect them still?)
But the search for the perfect words will instead mean that I won't write at all for the month of January and that propelled me to just get started! Here's to wishing a very productive and prosperous year to all my readers and friends. May this be the year of change.:)) May this be the year where we resolve to be resolute to our resolutions.
As for me, I decided to start my blog year with a sweet recipe. All those on a diet can move on to the next blogs where you will find yummy healthy food....just not here today. Well, we all need sugar after a gruelling workout, don't we?:))
The last few weeks were great with a air of festivities all around and a lot of visiting families to complete the festive feeling. The expectations for the holidays start half a year early and just keeps building up but the holidays itself go so fast!! Even a blizzard, two feet of snow and multiple bouts of flu and cold couldn't keep the spirits down.
Cleaning the house, refrigerator and pantry after all my guests left, I got stuck with a quart of milk nearing expiration date, a sweet craving, some unused sweetened coconut la languishing in my freezer , a bit of palada, (not enough for a party)and one too many cans of condensed milk. My better half recently asked if I really know the contents of my pantry and I bravely said yes, despite finding endless packs of the same stuff.
So, half the can of the evidence or a bit less went for the payasam and the remaining contributed to the sticky consistency of coconut macaroons. I have two recipes for the macaroons.. one with just coconut flakes and egg whites and almonds which is what is common. But my sis-in-law put me onto the eggless version which has just coconut flakes and condensed milk which is much better in taste, reminding of coconut burfi back home, with a fraction of the work!! Flavoring it with cardamom instead of vanilla and aniseed, Indianized it instantly.
For the payasam, the only ingredient you need is a thick bottom pan, as milk burns instantly and doesn't withstand long cooking. I use an uruli, a traditional thick bottom pan made usually of bronze but now available in aluminium too, which is fool proof for making payasams. It's great for doing any kind of milk based cooking as it never burns!! Get one if you are a fan of payasams. A copper bottom pan available locally may suffice but I am not sure.
By the way, see this link for a multitude of payasam cook off in California. Did any of you attend it?
There is no recipe.. just follow the instructions at the back of the packet!But for those who need it, here it is..
A really thick bottom wide pan or an uruli.
Double Horse Palada-1/3 pack
Milk- about 1/3 gallon (which is 4-5 cups)
Condensed Milk-1/2 tin or a little less.
Salt- a tiny pinch
Cardamom powder- crush 5 cardamom into powder.
Boil 2 cups water and steep/soak the palada in the hot water( off the flame) for 15 minutes. Drain the water and then add the palada to the milk and cook for 15 minutes or till the palada is soft and cooked. Then add the condensed milk, cardamom powder and salt and cook further for 10 minutes. If it looks too thick, add 1/2 cup milk. The consistency and sweetness is to each one's taste so use your judgement. I like my payasams not too thick and a bit less sweet than headache inducing sweet. These proportions may end up too loose and not too sweet for you so change as you need.
Garnish with ready bought roasted cashews(or you could fry a handful of cashews and raisins in ghee) and raisins. Serve hot or lukewarm or cold.
The rest of the can of the condensed milk went into the Eggless coconut macaroons which I will post next.:)