Fresh Cow Milk – 3 litre
Rice – brown/boiled type – 250 gms
Sugar – 1.5 kg
Wash the brown boiled rice well and keep it aside for some time for water to ooze out from it.
Take a thick based vessel, add about half a litter of water and boil it. In olden days, traditional cookware called as Uruli (made of bell metal) is used to prepare Payassam, which requires, continuous heating and stirring for a long time.
First and foremost precaution is to keep continuous constant flame, medium enough to cover the full base of the vessel.
When the water starts boiling, add, the neatly washed and by now clean and dry brown-boiled rice.
When the rice starts cooking to its half, add about 1 litre of milk and 250 gms of sugar.
Continue stirring from this point, gently covering the whole area of the content, to mix well, but not to break the rice or smash it.
This process will increase the boiling time of rice while giving milk and sugar to blend well with it.
As you see the water and milk content of the mix getting reduced, add 1 more litre of milk and 500 gms of sugar to it.
Continue stirring at intervals, keeping the flame constant.
When you see the milk getting mixed well with the sugar and rice mix in the vessel and the content quantity getting thicker, add the remaining quantity of milk and sugar and continue to stir and mix well.
After some time, you will get the natural flavor of milk, sugar, and rice mix coming out as you see the content sufficiently thick and cooked enough to be served. You will the natural aroma of Pal Paayassam in the air as you take a small spoon full of it in your hand and feel it well within your palm.
To add a divine touch to it, add five or six leaves of Krishna thulasi to the content. Keep it closed and let it mix with the content in the hot vapour coming out inside the vessel and spread the aroma of it all over the contents.
Do not add any other ingredients like cashew nuts, grapes, cardamom or saffron to garnish it.
Quantity of sugar can be reduced or increased as per your taste. However, constant stirring and proportionate increase of milk is important to get the natural taste.
Avoid preparing Paal Paayassam in Pressure Cookers.
Continuous stirring and constant medium sized and regular flame (without getting thicker) is very important while preparing it. This is very important while making Paal Paayassam. The fire and flame level and continuous concentration on the process happening add or decrease the taste of the product.
Traditional Paal Payassam is called as the Maharajah of all Paayassam. There is an interesting story about it. Kunjan Nambiar was famous for wits and tastes. During his time, there was an elaborate feast where many distinguished guests were invited by the King. Relishing all the items served, Kunjan Nambiar was full and said “I am full and I do not have any more place within”. The King wanted to poke Nambiar and enjoy his wits, ordered the servants to bring Paal Paayassam. There it comes with its natural aura and beauty and Nambiar couldn’t resist. On one side, it was ordered for him by the King and on the other hand it was too tempting. Kunjan Nambiar had a go at it and all were surprised including the King. Smiling at Nambiar, the King asked, “a short while ago, you only said, you do not have any space in your stomach, and here you had a good quantity of Paal Paayassam”. Equally smiling, Kunjan Nambiar answered to the king, “Your Majesty, imagine a huge crowd at our temple without even an inch of space to spare. And there come the announcement of the arrival of the Maharajah for darshan! All crowd will move to the side to make way for the Maharajah. Similarly, when your deliciously prepared Paal Paayassam was served, all other items I had just before, gave way for it in my stomach to accommodate whatever quantity you served to me.
The King smiled and gave gifts and blessings to Kunjan Nambiar.
Presentation and Photography by: Ramesh Menon.