A kheer or payasam denotes a festive dish and this semya payasam is one of the yummiest and the most commonly prepared sweet dishes in most of the Indian households. Especially it is so popular in the southern regions that it is probably one of the first sweet dishes that a novice learns to cook. The rich, creamy kheer is easy to prepare and hard to mess up unless one is not paying attention. Semiya payasam uses the Indian style vermicelli that is sold as 1/2 inch sized bits. In the basic and common version, the vermicelli is roasted in ghee until golden brown and then cooked in full fat milk and sugar and flavored with cardamom. It is finally rounded off with the addition of toasted raisins and cashews. Depending upon the occasion, this basic version kheer can be made more richer and creamier with the addition of condensed milk at the final stages of cooking. Or as they do in Bangalore region, the payasam can be made more flavorful with the addition badam mix powder (like MTR brand for example).
1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. ghee
1/2 cup vermicelli / semya
2 cups full fat milk (Don't substitute skim milk.)
3 tbsp. sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 to 2 tbsp. MTR badam mix (optional)
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. cashews
* Heat 2 tsp. ghee in a pan and roast vermicelli on medium flame, stirring continuously until the vermicelli turns uniformly golden brown. Turn off the stove and set the vermicelli aside.
Skip this step if using pre-roasted vermicelli. Vermicelli can be roasted without adding ghee too.
Take care not to burn the vermicelli and in case, accidentally if vermicelli is burned, throw it away and start over with fresh batch of vermicelli.
* Heat milk on low flame in a thick bottomed stainless steel pot or a non stick one. Add the roasted vermicelli to the milk pot and stir well with a ladle so that the vermicelli does not form a clumpy mass. Leave the ladle in the pot so that the milk will not flow over the pot. Continue to cook, stirring intermittently until the vermicelli is done. The stirring is important not to let the milk scorch. (When vermicelli is cooked properly, it can be broken easily pressing between two fingers.)
* Add sugar, cardamom and Badam mix powder if using and cook until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the stove.
* Heat a tbsp. ghee in a small pan and add cashews and raisins to the pan. Toast them until the cashews turn golden brown and the raisins turn plump. Add this to the cooked payasam and mix well.
* Serve warm or chilled.
This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'One Ingredient - Three Courses'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.