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Palmyra fruit payasam

Updated: Mar 22

Payasam is the South Indian version of Kheer, the famed rice pudding of India. Payasam is an ancient dish with a history recorded for thousands of years. Folklore has the story of Lord Krishna, who is known to love anything sweet and challenged the King of Ambalapuzha to a chess game he won. As a reward, he asked that one grain of rice be placed on the first square and doubled on every square. The king realized his folly, and they agreed that every pilgrim who came to the lovely Ambalapuzha Krishna temple should be given a bowl of payasam, a tradition that persists even today. Another version is from the Buddhist culture, where Buddha broke his seven-year fast with a bowl of "payas", a North Indian dessert and is one of the earliest recorded recipes from 400 BC of the dish

Folklore aside, payasam rules supreme in South India. It has thousands of variations, including different grains and millets, fruits, and even vegetables. These variations are divine from a cultural perspective and on the palate.

This recipe is no exception. The payasam is light and silky smooth. It is barely sweet—you do not want to drown out the light flavour of the fruit—and refreshing. The fruit flavours are enhanced with the milk, and the nuts and sultanas add nuances to the dessert. You will be drinking this payasam by the bowlful.

The Jaffna community is a small community on the North of the island with a distinct culture and cuisine. This was a hard-to-find cookbook, but it brought to my table a unique, delicious cuisine. The book is unpretentious but filled with wonderful, authentic recipes.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.



Ingredients:

2 cups milk

1/4 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon urad dal (black gram) flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


18 medium pieces of palmyra fruit + for garnish

20n cashew nuts, lightly roasted and roughly chopped

20 yellow sultanas or raisins


Heat the milk in a pot with the sugar and the urad dal flour. When warm, stir continuously until it reaches the consistency of light cream. Remove the pot from the stove.


Add the vanilla extract, cashew nuts, and raisins and mix well.


Purèe 15 of the palmyra fruits to a rough consistency and mix in. Chop the other three fruits into small bits and add them to the payasam, stirring well. Taste for sweetness and flavour.


Serve chilled and topped with whole fruit.


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