Thursday 27 August 2015

Banana Payasam (வாழைப்பழ பாயசம்)

The other day, when I opened the refrigerator, I was surprised to find a ripe banana in my vegetable tray. As it turned out, the plantain I had bought a few days ago had ripened due to a quirk of fate! After wondering for a while what to do with this country banana (மொந்தன் () நாட்டு வாழைப்பழம்), I decided to make banana payasam (வாழைப்பழ பாயசம்). Traditionally banana payasam is made with jaggery; however, I prefer to use sugar instead, and this works just fine for me. Let’s see how to make this unusual dessert.

Country banana (மொந்தன் () நாட்டு வாழைப்பழம்)
Ingredients: (Serves four)
Banana – large, 1 no*
Sugar – 1 large hollow ladleful or 75ml measure (adjust to taste)
Cardamom – 3 no
Coconut – white meat of half a coconut
Ghee – 2 teaspoons
Raisins – 1 teaspoon
Cashew nuts – broken, 1 teaspoon

*I have used country banana (மொந்தன் () நாட்டு வாழைப்பழம்) for this recipe and it is fairly large. You may, however, use any variety of bananas. If you are using smaller bananas, use two instead of one.

Method: Peel and cut the banana flesh into small pieces. Boil banana pieces in 200ml of water in a covered kadai on medium flame. Once the banana is well cooked and soft to touch, mash it with a ladle nicely. 

Cut the white coconut meat into small pieces. Peel cardamom and remove the seeds. Grind coconut pieces and cardamom seeds with half a tumbler or 100ml of water into a very fine paste; and strain through a strainer in to a bowl. Squeeze the coconut residue left in the strainer with a spoon to extract coconut milk. Keep aside this thick first milk (முதல் பால்). 

Add 100ml of water to the residue and grind once again. Pass through a strainer in to another bowl, by squeezing the coconut residue left in the strainer. Add this dilute second milk (இரண்டாம் பால்), to the kadai and mix well with the banana. Add sugar and cook on low flame till the content boils. Now add the thick first milk and mix well. Simmer for a minute or two, while stirring every now and then. DO NOT bring the content to boil at this stage, lest coconut milk will curdle. Switch off the fire when the payasam is just about to boil.

Banana Payasam (வாழைப்பழ பாயசம்)
Heat ghee in a spice pan, add cashew nuts and raisins, and fry till the nuts turn light brown in color. Switch off the fire and add the contents to the payasam. Serve hot as part of a traditional meal or as a dessert. 

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