Go for payasams with a fruity punch this Onam

Mango semiya payasam   | Photo Credit: Anoop Chand


A fruitful Onam is in the offing for those waiting to enjoy the payasams and pradhamans, the grand finale of the Onam sadya. While classic treats like ada, semiya (vermicelli), paal (milk), ari (rice), parrippu (dal) and gothamb (wheat) varieties still have pride of place on the sadya line-up in many households, chefs and home cooks are experimenting with fruity payasams that have a fruit pulp blending with ingredients like sugar, jaggery, milk and coconut milk.

Poppy payasam

Poppy payasam   | Photo Credit: John Victor

“When I cook, I make it a point to use what fruits are available locally,” says Chef Director Finedining Indian Consultants & Media, a resident of Leeds, UK. In his case, the fruits could be plum, apple and figs. “This time, I have got foraged wild raspberries and I plan to make a payasam with that and, perhaps, turn it into a souffle,” says the chef.

In the olden days, fruits in the backyard, which happened to be jackfruit and bananas in plenty, would be infused with jaggery and coconut milk to make pradhamans, says Priya Jayachandran, proprietor of Mangalya Bakery. “Over the years, mangoes, yam, pumpkin, carrots, beetroot, pineapple, papaya and other fruits are being used to cook colourful and flavourful payasams ,” she explains.

  • Recipe for classic kadala pradhaman
  • Ingredients (for approx 2 litres): Chana daal: 1 cup, jaggery: 400 gm, ghee- 50 ml, coconut milk - from 1 coconut (first and second extract separately), dry ginger powder - 2 gm, jeera powder: pinch, green cardamom powder - pinch, coconut pieces - 50gm
  • Method: Wash the chana daal and add 2 ½ cups of water and pressure-cook till it become soft. Mash the cooked daal with a wooden spoon. In a pot, add jaggery and ½ cup of water and bring to boil till jaggery melts. Strain and keep it aside.
  • In a bronze uruli or pan, heat ghee and add the coconut pieces and fry till they turn golden brown. Add mashed dal, melted jaggery and the second extract of coconut milk and slow-cook and stir continuously. Add jeera, cardamom and dry ginger powder and the first extract of coconut milk and remove from fire.
  • (Recipe by chef Suresh Pillai)

To indulge the tastebuds of gourmets, Villa Maya in Thiruvananthapuram is serving dates pradhaman and unniyappam pradhaman. “Our customers enjoy tasting innovative varieties. That is why we came up with some new concepts this year,” says Sashi Jacob, vice president (Food & Beverages), The Muthoot Skychef and Villa Maya. Dates pradhaman’s key ingredients includes ghee and a proportionate mixture of common jaggery and palm jaggery “to lend a slightly caramelised flavour that also does not make it overly sweet,” adds Sashi. The bulk orders they have received proves the popularity of the nouveau payasams.

Onam is the time when the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) organises its annual Payasam Mela (fest). The pick of the bunch is the navarasa payasam, essentially condensing nine rasas (flavours) into one. “Apart from four kinds of cereals, our navarasa payasam has jackfruit, two varieties of banana, dates, pineapple and pomegranate as garnish,” says K P Ramesh, operations manager, KTDC.

In fact, social media has colourful posts of strawberry and blueberry payasams in addition to the customary payasams made of cereals. Instagrammer Govind P (Kerala Foodie) says the payasam can be prepared from most things available in our own backyard. “One that has been trending that karikku (tender coconut) payasam, which can be prepared with both jaggery-coconut milk and milk, has been trending. Karikku paal payasam is more commonly seen in the Malabar region,” he says. With the pandemic keeping many indoors, there’s been ample time for home cooks to experiment as well. Food blogger at Thank God I'm Fat, Anjana Gopakumar is all set for a special carrot payasam this Thiruvonam.

Recipe for wild raspberry and rice payasam soufflé
  • Ingredients: For payasam base: wild raspberry – 1 cup, rice flour – 3 tbspn, milk – ¾ cup, butter – 1 tbspn, brown sugar – 2 tbspn, cardamom sugar – 1 tbspn, salt – ¼ tspn
  • For soufflé meringue: Brown sugar powdered – 2 tbspn, egg white – 2 no
  • For soufflé mould: Soft butter – ½ tbspn, brown sugar – 1 tbspn
  • Method: For payasam base: Pour milk in a pan, dissolve rice flour while milk is cold; cook over a low heat while mixing well without any lumps till the mixture is white and thick; now add raspberry, cook till it is smashed and mix well with the white mixture; finish with cardamom sugar, butter and salt; mix well and keep it aside to cool down
  • For soufflé meringue: Beat the egg white and add powdered brown sugar in between; check the consistency of meringue. Beat/whisk until it gets the soft peak consistency
  • For soufflé: Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius for 10 minutes; now Line the soufflé mould with butter and coat it with brown sugar; in a bowl mix two table spoons of meringue and 3 table spoons of payasam base together to get a smooth paste; now add the paste to the remaining soufflé meringue. Fold it nicely using a silicon spatula; put the soufflé mix into the mould till the top and run your finger around the tip of the soufflé mould and wipe off the sides; bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 degree Celsius; garnish with raspberry, cardamom sugar and raspberry flower
  • (Recipe by chef Bobby Geetha)

Suresh Pillai, culinary director, The Raviz Hotels and Resorts, says that when he had worked in London at the Michelin-starred restaurants Gymkhana, Trishna and Veeraswamy, he made a variety of unusual payasams. “One was green chilli payasam, where the chillies were blanched and de-seeded before being made into a purée. This is can prepared in both milk-sugar and jaggery-coconut combinations. The other was garlic payasam with garlic purée,” he explains. He has even made a macaroni paal payasam, which he says was a hit on Instagram. He recounts tasting mullappoo (jasmine) payasam during a food festival in Kerala.

During Onam cooking competitions heat up, says cookery show host Raj Kalesh.

“The most exotic payasams I have had are pavakka (bitter gourd) payasam and shallot payasam. This was during an Onam festival in Dubai a few years ago,” he says. The shallots were mixed with sugar and mashed before jaggery and rice were added, with a bit of coconut milk. “Despite the exotic feel, it is pretty easy to make. The predominant after-taste is that of shallot,” he says.

Shallots are also turned into payasams by city-based home cook Swapna Rakesh. She has not let the restrictions due to the pandemic curb her enthusiasm in making available her payasam specialities. On offer this time are raw papaya-pineapple payasam and dates-shallot payasam.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 2:10:27 PM |

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