Even though every cuisine has its own culinary identity, there will be at the least an iota of commonalities among them. One might be derived from the other or it might be adapted to suit the local abode. The best example I can come with is this. Mexico and India might be miles apart both geographically and culturally but they are more similar than you think in terms of food etiquette or preparation.
A well known similarity is that both are really hot and spicy. When the Mexicans can inflict us with their poblano chillies, we have our black pepper and red chillies. Wheat might be one of our staples and so many flat bread varieties where as the Mexicans have their own tortillas with maize and corn and also wheat. Unfortunately I have not had the chance to lay my hands on most of the cuisines. If we dig further and research, am sure there will be a chain of links for each dish. Its a small world, eh?
There is one such universal dish that has travelled across all the continents retaining its original form and slightly adapted according to the local region. Payasam/Kheer to South Asians, Phirni to the Middle east and Rice Pudding to the majority of the world. . It is said that the Rice pudding is derived from rice pottages (used as a medical ailment in the ancient times) which dates back to the Roman period. Kheer/Payasm were introduced by the Mughals to us. At first, rice was used only for stomach ailments and as a thickening agent. It was imported from middle east to Europe via India. The origin of any of this is very complicated and just like the common dilemma question of which came first ? Egg or Chicken? If someone has a good article about this, do share it with me and I would love to read it through
Payasam is one of the quintessential dish during the Hindu festivals and no festive treat is complete without it. There are so many variations in this. Primary one Paal payasam or kheer is just with rice, milk and sugar scented with cardamom and garnished with chopped nuts. Rice can be replaced with Vermicelli/Semiya, Tapioca pearls, carrot, Almonds and so on. In the south we also have payasams made with jaggery and milk instead of sugar. As I said payasam is inevitable for us. One such variety is Aval Payasam / Rice flakes payasam. Rice flakes or beaten rice is more common in Asia. Generally this is used to make a easy light snack or for fasting food.
Roast the rice flakes in ghee until they turn pale brown in colour. Then add milk and water to cook it through. Cover and cook; stirring it occasionally.
Once it is cooked well, add the condensed milk, saffron soaked milk (if using), sugar if needed and some more milk to get desired consistency. Turn off the stove and it will thicken as it cools. (Refer notes)
- 2 tablespoon ghee
- 1.5 tablespoon roasted nuts cashews, pistachios, almonds etc...
- 4 tablespoon Aval / Rice flakes
- 2 cups Milk 1
- ¼ cup sugar 2
- A pinch of Saffron optional
- Soak 2 strands of saffron in warm milk. Heat a tablespoon ghee on a heavy bottomed pan and add the aval. Roast them until they turn pale pink in colour.
Then add ½ cup water and ½ cup milk and a pinch of saffron. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes on medium flame, until the flakes are well cooked. Keep checking in between and stir it so that it would not get burnt at the bottom. Keep adding milk in batches as and when the liquid evaporates.
Keep stirring them until they become creamy. Then finally add sugar and stir well. Once the sugar completely dissolves, turn off the flame. Add roasted cahews, pistachios or nuts of your choice.
It will thicken as it cools.Add some more milk if its very thick to get a slightly pourable consistency.
The amount of milk mentioned here will give you a thick consistency. We like it that way and hence I made it thick and creamy. But you can add more milk according to your preference. You can have it thick or in a pourable consistency. Do not make it very runny.
Addition of condensed milk is purely optional. The reason for adding this is it provides a perfect body to the payasam. It makes it even more rich and tastier. But instead of condensed milk, you can make this with milk alone. Cook the rice flakes completely in milk. You will need about 1-2 Cups extra milk.
The amount of sugar depends on how much milk and condensed milk you use. Since condensed milk is already sweetened very little amount of sugar will be needed or you can totally skip it. If you use just milk you may need about ¼-1/2 cup according to your sweet tooth.