Today all Keralites across the world celebrate Onam, the ancient yet modern harvest festival. The festival brings to mind the colourful flowers, clothes and the prosperous or rich lunch or OnaSadya along with the myths associated with the festival. Not to mention the pookkalam or flower carpets.More details you can find with Google Guru.
My first memories of Onam starts with the lights decoration in Thriuvanathapuram. The four days of Onam were (still are) state holidays and my parents used to take me for long walks to see the light decorations near Rajbhavan or is it secretariat. We would start from home in a taxi or auto, go some distance and then walk. It was like a procession or peaceful march where people would walk or strut along watching the decorations. Then after the seventh day of Onam would come the float procession. Each and every district (and sometimes government agencies) in Kerala would make a presentation called float to show what they stand for or what is their USP. There was fierce competition here also and each would try to outdo the others and better themselves. This I used to watch on tv and for me it marks the end of the Onam celebrations of that year and back to the reality of routine school and life.
It was only later that Onam became associated with exam days or the First term exam or 'Ona pareeksha'. Nail biting days usually when I used to go to school in taxi and looking outside the streets dotted with pookkalams or flower carpets.These were done to invite the old just King Mahabali who will visit his people on Onam days.
While I never used to enjoy a sadya /traditional lunch at that time, these days I have started enjoying it. This happens when you are living with a person who loves and demands Kerala dishes for lunch and dinner if possible.Jokes apart, I tried a simple payasam or kheer and thought I would post it here today. Its simple and easy and cooks with 30-40 minutes. So if you can multitask you can get it done and ready along with your other dishes. The quantity is guestimates and feel free to change it as per your taste.
Broken wheat / dalia/ Sooji gothumbu : 1.5 cup
Water: 1 -2 cups needed to cook the broken wheat.
Jaggery syrup:1 -1.5 cup +/-
Medium thick Coconut milk : 1-2 cups
Thick Coconut milk : 1 cup
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Cashewnuts & Raisins: handful each
Cardamom Powder: 1/4-1/2 tsp as per taste.
Cook the broken wheat in enough water and keep it aside. The water should be completely absorbed and if added more drain it away.
In a deep pan, add the jaggery syrup and bring it boil. add in the cooked broken wheat and stir it and let it cook in the jaggery for few minutes till it starts thickening absorbing the jaggery. Make sure you stir it periodically to prevent it sticking from the bottom of the pan. You can also add table spoon of ghee at this stage.
Add in the medium thick coconut milk or second extract of coconut milk and continue cooking on low heat. When this also starts thickening add in the thick or first extract of coconut milk and heat through but donot boil. Remove from heat and add it cashewnuts and raisins sauteed in ghee and cardamom powder.
Serve in bowls as a wonderful healthy dessert. Normally the colour of the payasam or kheer should be dark brown thanks to the jaggery available in Kerala. Mine is light in colour as I used different jaggery.
You can actually enhance the recipe by adding ingredients like nendrapazham or kerala banana sauteed in ghee and jaggery or whatever fruits u like and feel will enhance this. This can be made completely vegan by avoiding the ghee or using vegan substitutes for sauteeing the nuts and raisins. Otherwise also this is a healthy and perfect payasam in itself and hope you enjoy this payasam for Onam.