In these days of mass-manufactured birthday parties conducted by professionals, my mind often drifts back to the time when I was a child.
On my piranaalu (birthday), my parents made me feel like a princess……. We would go to the temple early in the morning ; and after that, pay our respects to the elders in the family. My Grandmother would hug me and kiss me – a special one from a very special person. Lunch, that day, would be a traditional sadya. My mother would first light the lamp and serve rice and the curries, along with sharkara upperi, pappadam, banana chips, pulyinji and pickles, on a leaf set aside for God. Then I would be served, followed by my Father and then everybody else. We would then finish our main meal… and eagerly await the payasam.
Payasam, the ultimate temptation from God’s Own Country, is a must for every special and auspicious occasion. For me, although there are many different kinds of delicious payasams, semia payasam, a dessert made with vermicelli and milk, is synonymous with celebrations.
Semia Payasam – Vermicelli Payasam
Serves – 6 Preparation time –10 mins Cook time – 40 mins
- Vermicelli- 1 cup
- Milk- 1 litre
- Ghee- 2 tbsp
- Condensed Milk (Milkmaid)- 1 tin (diluted in two tins of water)
- Cardamom- 2 crushed
- Raisins- 1 tbsp
- Cashewnuts- 2 tbsp (halved)
- Heat ghee in a heavy pan. In low heat fry cashew nuts and raisins. Take off heat.Remove them and keep aside.
- In the same ghee, fry vermicelli to light brown. Boil milk, add vermicelli and cook. Add cardamom to the mixture to enable the flavours to infuse into it.
- When the semia is fully cooked, add diluted condensed milk to it and keep stirring to ensure it doesn’t settle at the bottom and burn.
- Continue stirring till it reaches the required consistency. Remove from fire. Sprinkle fried cashew and raisins on top.
Note– (a) If you are not using condensed milk, you will need 2 litres milk, 1/2 cup sugar for 1 cup vermicelli. The milk has to be boiled stirring continuously, till it reduces to 3/4th of the original quantity.
(b) To bring it to the desired consistency, add milk to thin it. Else, keep stirring on low heat to thicken it.
Quick Snack– PUFFED RICE MIXTURE – PORI (right) – Ideal as a tea – time low calorie snack – Season 2 tbsp oil with mustard, 1 red chilly, 1sprig curry leaves and crushed garlic -2 cloves (optional). Lower heat. Add 3 tbsps groundnuts, saute till color deepens, add 3 tbsps puffed bengal gram, again saute till lightly crisp. Add salt, a pinch of turmeric and 1/4 tsp chilly powder(optional). Add 100 gm puffed rice. Stir for 3 mins. Cool and store. As tasty as any fried mixture. Try it, you will love it!!!
Quick Tip – Wet puttu powder the evening before and keep in fridge. You will be rewarded with extra-soft puttu for breakfast the next day.