Sunday, April 26, 2015

Avalakki payasa (or pongal?) - kheer made with flattened rice

I made this avalakki payasa yesterday for a celebration and was about to write the post when I caught up with the news and saw the devastation in Nepal. Totally lost my taste for the sweet payasa and got up to do something to distract my mind. All my prayers to the people affected by this wrath of nature, hope us humans are able to stand support and help them rebuild their lives.

After a day of deliberation, I figured I would write this post anyways because it is special for more than one reason. First, it was my father's favorite payasa (or rather his favorite deity's favorite dish :-)). This is a popular offering from the Udupi math, very simple to make, extremely delicious and homely, at the same time perfect fit for any occasion. Second reason being that we were indeed celebrating a milestone yesterday. The baby is ready to fly the nest and experience life without her parents by her side, this is a bitter sweet moment for us as parents and as proud as we are of our little bundle of joy that has grown up into a fine young woman ready to move out of the safety net of home, we are at the same time trying to choke back the heavy feeling in the throat. Can't imagine coming back home in the evenings that would be devoid of the chirpiness characteristic of our little girl, or getting to work without that warm arms around the neck wishing a Good Morning and everything in between. But that is another 3 months away and I won't think about it until then as there is lots to do between now and then :-)
DD finalized her college choice yesterday and is excited about beginning a new life on campus while we are torn between feeling elated and anxious at the same time. I have been thinking of my father and wishing he was with us still to share the joy and also offer those ever ready shoulders of his when I needed to lean on and anchor myself. I have never spoken of my father except in passing on this blog, even after all these years (time doesn't fill certain voids in life) it is not easy for me to talk about what he meant to me and the rest of his children. He would have been one proud & supportive grandpa for all his grand children cheering them on at every one of their achievements and offering the best practical advice when they needed some.

Avalakki payasa is a thicker form of payasa or kheer made especially on Janmashtami or Krishnashtami as avalakki is known for its popularity with the Lord Krishna. I make this any time we feel like eating a quick sweet since it hardly takes time. Given avalakki's innate thickening quality, this payasa tends to resemble the sweet pongal rather than a flowy payasa :-). You don't have any lentil and so it doesn't officially quality for being called a pongal. If you really didn't care about the name, then this is a perfect cup of dessert to dig into as part of any celebration - big or small.
I love sweets with jaggery more than white sugar. You can substitute jaggery in this recipe with white sugar if you prefer, that retains a bright white color in the payasa. I add ground coconut (ground to a fine paste almost resembling thick coconut milk), you can use coconut milk instead or make it with regular milk.

So here is my humble avalakki payasa as we get go through a happy life changing event. Being a weekend, I made poori, saagu and green apple tokku for brunch and we ate our avalakki payasa to finish off a perfectly sleep inducing brunch :-).

Note: If you notice the color or hint of saffron strands in a couple of pictures and wonder why I didn't call out that ingredient in the list, please note that it is not an essential ingredient. BH was helping me out in the kitchen on this said morning and he loves to open my cupboards and pantry and keep adding stuff into the pots and pans on the stove :-). Adding saffron was one of his experimentation (nammamma would feel very proud of the SIL since she loves to sprinkle the expensive saffron into most of the sweets too :-)). I don't discourage you from adding saffron but it is not needed.
What do you need to make Avalakki payasa? 
1 cup avalakki/poha/flattened rice (use the medium variety)
3/4 - 1 cup jaggery powdered (based on your preference for sweetness)
2 cups milk
1 cup grated coconut
2 green cardamom
2 cloves
1 Tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 Tsp raisins
1 Tsp cashews
How do you make Avalakki payasa? 
  • Take a heavy bottom pan and heat it to warm up. 
  • Pick any dirt from avalakki and pour it into the pan.
  • Roast it for 2-3 minutes until it crisps up slightly and loses the raw smell. 
  • Take it out onto a plate. 
  • Add jaggery pieces/powder to the pan along with 2 Tbsp water and let it dissolve.
  • Jaggery starts to bubble up once it mixes with water, at this stage add the roasted avalakki and mix it in. 
  • Make a smooth paste of coconut, cardamom and cloves with 1/2 cup milk in a blender. 
  • Let avalakki cook in the jaggery syrup for 5 minutes or until it becomes soft. 
  • Add the coconut paste at this stage along with the remaining milk. 
  • Mix and let it come to a good boil on medium heat. Take off heat. 
  • Heat ghee in a small pan, add raisins and cashews and roast until raisins plump up and cashes turn golden brown. 
  • Add this to the payasa and give a mix. 
  • Serve it warm or cold. 
  • You can use thin or paper avalakki in which case just rinse it under water and add it to the melted jaggery. 
  • If you are using white sugar instead of jaggery, bring 1/2 cup milk to boil, add sugar and let it dissolve. Continue with the rest of the process as above. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

our deep condolence to the Earth Quake victims of Nepal.wonderful sweet in taste and a healthy recipe. your father really great person.

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