Friday, October 7, 2011
Growing up, I used to call semiya (or vermicelli, as it is known in English) 'worms'. Take a look at the picture - the semiya strands do look like (dried) worms, don't they?
So, much to my mom's dismay, I would never touch anything made of semiya. It was only when I was well into my teens and was forced to have it, out of courtesy, at a friend's place that I grew out of my rather brattish attitude to semiya.
Today, of all the payasams that I make - coconut milk payasam, rice payasam - semiya payasam reigns as my favourite. A lot of it is, I think, to do with how easy and quick this payasam is to prepare. Toss the semiya in some ghee, simmer it milk, sweeten it, simmer some more and it is ready - in almost under 30 minutes.
It is no wonder then that semiya paysam features so often on my menu, especially on festive days.
Semiya/Vermicelli: 3/4 cup
Low Fat Milk: 2 cups
Low Fat Evaporated Milk: 1 tin/ 380 ml
Sugar: 1/2 cup (this amount works for us, adjust as per your taste buds)
Cardamom: 10 pods, crushed into a coarse powder
Assorted nuts (I use 1 tbsp each of almonds, cashewnuts and pistachios)
Ghee: 2 tbsps
Heat ghee in a wok and roast the vermicelli till it starts to change colour from translucent to white and brown. Keep tossing the vermicelli continuously around the wok, else it will burn.
Transfer the vermicelli into a colander and rinse it in warm water. This step is optional, but doing this will wash the ghee away and therefore, you won't have any ghee floating on top of the payasam.
In a deep, thick bottomed pan, mix together low fat milk and the evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Add the vermicelli to the milk. The uncooked vermicelli will sink to the bottom of the pan and so, give it a good stir occasionally till the vermicelli softens and cooks. Once cooked, the vermicelli will plump up.
After the vermicelli cooks, add sugar, chopped nuts and the cardamom powder and let the payasam simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with chopped pistachios and serve hot. I personally prefer to let the payasam rest for at least a couple of hours in order to let the flavours mingle.
Of Chalks and Chopsticks: September was being hosted here; unfortunately, I haven't had any time to work on my story. So, for very selfish reasons, I am going to extend the deadline to October 31st. If you, like me, haven't worked on yours yet, do it now!
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!
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