Friday, April 27, 2012

Akki Payasa / Indian Rice Pudding

According to the panchanga or the Hindu Calendar, yesterday was the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. It falls on the third lunar day of the month of Vaishakha. Akshaya, in Sanskrit, means infinite, somethings that never ends. In a culture, where every event is performed after taking the auspicious moment into consideration, this day is at the top of the list.
According to legend, this is the birthday of Lord Parashurama and this is also the day when Lord Ganesha and Sage Vyasa started writing India's most famous epic, The Mahabharata. Another legend states that this was the day when the river Ganges descended to the earth from the heavens ! This day is considered to be a day to start new ventures. I also remember that many Indians bought gold on this day, even if in trivial amounts, because it was considered that gold purchased on this day would only grow and never recede :-)
Akshaya Tritiya is also considered an auspicious day by the followers of Jainism.
So much for legends and gold {sigh}
Although I don't remember my mother making any such purchases, however insignificant ( we were a strictly middle class family), I do remember her making some or the other kind of dessert to commemorate the occasion. I decided to keep that part of tradition going and made Rice pudding, Indian style.
It is a pretty straightforward recipe, not needing too many ingredients.


1 C rice  ( any kind will do - basmati or long grained)
3 C whole milk
1 C light coconut milk
1/4 C - 1/2 C sugar (according to taste)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 C mixed nuts (almonds , cashew nuts, pistachios)
2 Tbsp raisins
1 tsp ghee / canola oil
4 - 5 strands of saffron

1. Wash the rice and put it in a pot (preferably non stick) with the whole milk.
2. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the rice is cooked. If the mixture starts getting thicker, add more milk until its cooked perfectly.
Note: On hindsight and after conferring with my expert (my mom), I realized that I should have cooked the rice in water first instead of trying to cook it entirely in milk. This would have yielded a creamier pudding.
4. Once the rice is cooked, add the coconut milk, the sugar and the spices. Gently simmer until the pudding becomes creamy.
5. Roast the chopped nuts and the raisins in the ghee / canola oil and pour into the pudding.
6. Soak the saffron strands in a little warm milk and then mix into the pudding.

Notes: The pudding was pretty good and was enjoyed by my family. The next time, however, I am going to pulse the rice in a blender to get broken rice and then I will cook it in water before I add the milk and the sugar.  Do try out this pudding!

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