I start off every New Year not by making resolutions or re-evaluating the year gone by but by getting into the kitchen and making something sweet . This is the first thing everyone in the family will taste on a brand new year.
Growing up my parents always took us to the temple on New Year’s Day to ask for blessings from the person upstairs. Which is a wonderful way to start off anything and everything for that matter, if you are into that sort of thing. Me, I make something sweet.
As I headed down to the kitchen I opened all the blinds and curtains, to let the rays of this New Year’s sun fill my home with brightness and warmth. It is a beautiful winter day.
Today I am making ‘Semiya Payasam’ or you may know it as ‘vermicelli pudding’ or ‘Seviyan Kheer’. Whatever name it goes by, I promise you, it will taste just as good and is perfect for new beginnings.
Just 4 star ingredients, butter, milk, sugar and vermicelli. Or condensed milk instead of sugar and some of the milk. Cardamom and saffron for flavor. Finally a garnish of ghee coated raisins and cashew . That simple. If you are someone who finds this recipe not challenging enough, I’ll let you sweat over whether to use golden raisins or dark. How about that?
2 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons cashew halves
3 tablespoons raisins[I used golden]
1/2 cup vermicelli
2 1/2 cups milk, preferably full fat +extra if needed
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
A couple of pinches of saffron threads
1/2 cup condensed milk
Melt butter over a flow flame. Add the cashew halves and stir continuously till it is nutty brown. Make sure there are no burnt spots. This will add a bitter taste. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In the same butter which has by now turned into ghee add the raisins and stir continuously for less than a minute. The raisins will start swelling up. Remove right away at this stage with a slotted spoon and set aside. Any longer in the ghee, they’ll get tough and taste burnt.
Next add the vermicelli and toast till every strand is coated with ghee and browns evenly.
Now add the milk in half cup increments to the pan and stir as the vermicelli cooks while absorbing the milk. As and when the milk is absorbed replenish with another half cup.This is similar to cooking a risotto. Remember to keep the heat on low and stir often. Add the cardamom and saffron threads. The vermicelli is done when it is cooked through but still firm. You do not want it cooked to a mush.
Add the condensed milk and when it comes to a boil, turn off the stove.
Pour into a serving dish and garnish with raisins and cashew.
The wonderful thing about this dish is it can be served hot, warm or cold. Add some milk to thin it out as it tends to thicken due to the starch in the vermicelli.
Wishing all of you a wonderful 2012.