Cashew nut Payasam - Indian Cashew nut pudding
Payasam (read what Wikipedia has to say) especially in the South of India is considered to be God's favorite food. Hence it generally occupies center stage in most festivals.
My mom makes the regular Paal Payasam- which is the traditional kinds, made with cooked rice and milk, or Semiya Payasam- made with vermicilli and milk. In most payasams, milk is kept at a simmer for a long time, so that it gets the pinkish hue as it thickens and tastes rich.
My payasam is a quicker version and uses cashewnuts instead of the traditional rice or vermicilli.
Recipe for Cashew nut Payasam
Ingredients:4 cups toned milk (you could use whole milk too)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cashew nuts
Few strands saffron
1 tbsp raisins
1/4 tsp Almond essence (optional)
1. Preparing cashew paste- Soak the cashews overnight / for few hours, and grind with 1/2 cup of milk, into a very fine paste.
You could also soak them in water and microwave on HIGH for 3 min. Let them remain in that hot water for 5-10 more minutes. Once cooled, grind them with some milk as above.
2. Boil the milk on the side in a heavy bottomed pan. Once it has come to a boil, let it simmer. Add the sugar, saffron and raisins. Add the cashew paste. Make sure you keep stirring so that the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
3. Let the milk simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the almond essence. The cashew paste will thicken the milk such that it will stick to the back of the ladle. It's time to remove it from the flame.
4.Garnish with 2-3 strands of saffron and you can either chill it or have it while still hot.