Bachelor-friendly, Festival Recipes, Sweets

Carrot Payasam

During winter season in India we get the red longer variety of carrots as opposed to the orange smaller thicker variety that is available all through the year. The red variety is sweeter, juicier, and more tasty. The red carrot variety is the most ideal to make this simple and yummy kheer/payasam made with minimal ingredients.

Ingredients:
Red Carrots (diced) – 2 cups
Milk – 1/2 liter
Sugar – 3/4 cup – 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Pista flakes – 1 tbsp

Method:
Boil the milk in a sauce pan.
Wash the carrots thoroughly, scrape the carrot skin to remove any impurities, and then dice them into small chunky pieces.
Place the diced carrots in half a cup of milk in a pressure cook and cook to one whistle. Let it rest until the pressure releases completely.
Open the pressure cooker, take out the cooked carrot pieces and after they cool down, puree into a smooth paste using a mixer.
Transfer the carrot puree to the rest of the milk and bring to boil. When the milk and carrot mixture starts boiling, add the sugar. Stir well. Taste and adjust as desired.
Add cardamom powder and garnish with pista flakes.

Notes: You can make this kheer with orange carrots also but since they have more pulp and are less juicy and not sweet like the red carrots, the taste will be very different. Red carrots give the ideal taste.

Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Sweets

Sharkara Payasam (Sweet Pongal)

People in different parts of India celebrate each festival in their own unique ways. In South, Makara Sankranti is a harvest festival. One of the items made with the newly harvested rice is Sharkara Payasam or Sweet Pongal. Back home we do not have any festivities for makara sankranti. My memories of sharkara payasam are associated with the last day of Navaratri (Vijaya Dashami). My cousin, who was the main pujari for this puja, would make sharkara payasam on that day. He did not resort to any measurements, but each time it turned out to be a delicious treat and we were left asking for more!

Ingredients:
Raw rice – 1 cup
Jaggery – 2 cups
Water – 2 cups
Ghee (Clarified butter) – 3-4 tbsp
Coconut pieces – 2 tbsp
Elaichi – 1/2 tsp
Cashew – 1 tbsp
Crystalized sugar – 1 tsbp (optional)

Method:
Clean the rice and cook it well. Make sure that you drain the extra water from the rice. Dissolve the jaggery in water and strain it to remove any impurities. Pour the melted jaggery into a thick bottomed pan (preferably uruli) and bring to boil. Add the cooked rice to the jaggery. The jaggery should not be too watery when adding the cooked rice. If it is, then by the time it thickens, the rice will harden. Stir occasionally. When it thickens and water reduces add elaichi powder. Roast the coconut pieces and cashews in ghee. Add this to the cooked payasam and its ready! My cousin would sprinkle generous amounts of kalkandam (crystalized sugar) to the payasam along with ghee. This makes it a truly heavenly treat.

If you add moong dal to this payasam, it becomes sweet pongal. You can check out the recipe here.

Note: The jaggery should not be too watery when adding the cooked rice. If it is, then by the time it thickens, the rice will harden.

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