Monday, April 27, 2009
It's a simple dessert, but one that I love a great deal. The humble south Indian Payasam. Throw some tapioca pearls in milk and water, add sugar, boil and slurp greedily. I do the last bit very well, I do.
Moving on, the mango season had begun in India!!! Ooooh, its delightful! Dozens of varieties of mangoes flood the market every year. And every year, I memorize all their difficult names and promptly forget it all at the end of the season. This happens unfailingly. This year I am going to document it- name with description of taste, smell and physical characteristics. I'll post it here too, just for reference.
Isn't it amazing how one fruit can taste so different in different forms? And if I went to say, Africa, I would find these mangoes with African names and even more varieties, wouldn't I? It boggles the mind...
Anyways, combining mangoes with payasam was just the next step for me. Word of caution- make sure that the mango is nice and sweet. A sour one would really spoil the dish (don't ask me how I know).
3 cups water
1/2 cup tapioca pearls
2 cups milk
1 cardamom pod OR 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
5 to 6 cashewnuts
1 spoon ghee or butter
4 small mangoes, pulp extracted or 2 cups mango pulp
Lightly fry the cashewnuts in the ghee till light brown and place aside. Boil the water and when its happily bubbling, add the tapioca pearls. Cook till the pearls expand nicely and do not have a white core- this will take a while. Then add the sugar, cashewnuts and cardamom /cinnamon and simmer for 5 mins. Add the milk and cook for another 5 minutes or till the payasam starts becoming thick. Cool to room temperature and add the mango pulp and mix in well. Serve as such or refrigerated.
Note: Payasam is also made with vermicelli instead of tapioca pearls, or with a combination of the two. However, slightly dry roast the vermicelli ahead of time to ensure it doesn't become very sticky.