Whenever I heard the word payasam, I was visualizing rice & lentil jaggery payasam aka anna payasam during my childhood days. It was a delicious staple dessert prepared in our family whether to treat our guests, or on our birthdays, on any festival, or simply to offer to deities at home on Fridays. However we gradually switched to other payasam made of semolina, tapioca pearls, etc. Nevertheless we still follow the tradition of feeding our traditional dessert, anna payasam, to babies in front of the deities at home or in a temple when solid foods are introduced to them for the first time.
Anna payasam is prepared using rice, lentils, cane jaggery & dried ginger powder. Initially, I assumed that anna payasam was chosen to feed the babies mainly because of the protein in lentils, but later I learnt that while taking lentils along with rice it provides a complete protein with all essential amino acids required for growth. It also offers essential minerals needed for the over all well being. Jaggery is one of the best alternatives for sugar and dried ginger aids in digesting protein in this payasam.
Let us look into the recipe for traditional anna payasam:
Time Taken: 40 min
Yields : 2 Ltrs.
- Raw rice (pacharisi) – ½ cup
- Green gram lentils (paasi paruppu or moong dal) – ½ cup
- Water for cooking rice & lentils – 4 cups (800 ml)
- Salt – 1/8 tsp (a pinch of salt)
- Cane jaggery (vellam) – 1 cup
- Water for making syrup – 500 ml
- Coconut milk (or cow’s milk) – 200 ml
- Ghee – 1 tsp
- Cashew nuts – as desired
- Raisins – as desired
- Dried ginger powder – 1 tsp
- Cardamom – 2 Nos.
- Heat a pressure cooker in medium flame.
- Add lentils and roast until they begin to change the color.
- Add rice and wash them.
- Add water (800 ml) and bring it to boil.
- Close the pressure cooker and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile prepare the syrup by boiling water and jaggery solution and keep aside.
- Grind dried ginger & cardamon seeds using mortar & pestle.
- Fry cashew nuts & raisins in ghee and keep aside.
- Immediately after opening the pressure cooker, mash the mixture nicely with the back of a ladle.
- Pour jaggery syrup little by little and combine together in medium flame.
- Then add powdered dried ginger powder & cardamom and mix well.
- Add fried cashews & raisins and then pour coconut milk.
- Finally pour coconut milk and mix well before removing from heat.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tips & tweaks:
- I have used equal measures of rice & lentil, but you may adjust lentil according to your preference. You may also add Bengal gram along with green gram.
- I used store bought coconut milk here, you may use fresh home made coconut milk or cow’s milk instead.
- You can use edible camphor (pachai karpooram) if you are not feeding this to a baby.