Wednesday, October 10, 2007

P is for PAYESH

sweet payesh
Originally uploaded by dalbhat
Nowadays birthday cakes have joined the ranks of Bengali birthday fare but not so long ago when a little girl or little boy’s birthday came around in Kolkata, you would be more likely to see mothers or grandmothers lovingly preparing a richly sweet rice pudding dish known as payesh than buying a store bought cake. Actually you will usually get both in these times!

The rice that is often used for payesh is a tiny-grained rice known as Govindabog, "the only sustenance worthy of being offered to Prince Govinda.” This grain is similar to a baby basmati as it has a nice aroma and is said to have been revered by the Moghuls who built the Taj Mahal, reserved for honored guests.

Even though it's small, it's really considered a long-grain rice because its length-to-width ratio is 3:1. It's size makes it quick to cook, so perfect for payesh where it needs to be cooked up in the milk.

Though the recipe will vary from household to household, you can follow something like this to get the feeling (and hopefully taste):

Bengali-style Payesh

3/4 cup short grain rice (Govindabog)
4-1/4 cups milk
bay leaf
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cardamon
12 cashew nuts
10-15 Raisins

Soak the rice in water for 15 minutes. Heat the milk on medium flame. Slowly add sugar to the milk and keep stirring. When the milk starts to boil, add the rice slowly to it. Remember to keep stirring the milk continuously. After about 20-25 minutes, when the milk has thickened and the rice grains have become soft, add the cardamon – stir gently. Remove the container from flame and add almonds sliced into half and raisins on top. Cool the payesh and keep it in refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve chilled.

Happy Birthday to you!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In puerto rico we make something very similar but our ingredients are milk, coconut milk, sugar, fresh ginger and raisins. We call it arroz con dulce (sweet rice) and we eat it specially at christmas. I'm not a fan of sweetened rice but i'm going to try yours cause i just bought some cardamom. Lately i'm into trying indian recipes. Thanks. (Natividad fwc)

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tik tiki i made a mistake, our sweet rice has no milk, just coconut milk. And we add some cinnamon and cloves too. Just in case you want to try it.

5:59 PM  
Blogger tik-tiki said...

coconut milk sounds excellent!

5:45 PM  
Anonymous jan in nagasaki said...

hey, not to worry, I read your blogs...and what kind of rice should I try for this recipe, will Japanese rice work at all???

love Jan

I grew up on rice mush. Cooked rice with milk and cinnamon and sugar poured on. with raisins.

2:27 PM  
Blogger tik-tiki said...

i think you can use any sort of short grain, aromatic rice. i think you can even try basmati with this.

my kids loved the rice mush you mention when they were little. if i had leftover rice in the fridge i'd cook it up some more in milk, sugar...raisins, cinnamon...

5:25 AM  
Anonymous Soma said...

Thanks for the recipe. I'm Bengali, but have only appreciated my mom's payesh. Will try yours and see how it goes. Namaste.


9:58 PM  
Anonymous blackmangopit said...

Doesn't authentic Bengali Payesh use gur or jaggery for the sweetener instead of white sugar?????

5:00 PM  
Blogger tik-tiki said...

people do use gur and the color changes to a delicious light brown -- when the gur is in season. that's the beauty of it. but most sweets seem to use lots of white sugar at other times of the year.

10:51 PM  
Blogger WCN said...

Hi. It sounds a lot like Indian kheer, but with bay leaf. When does the bay leaf go in? It wasn't mentioned in the instructions. -- Wm. Newman - Nara, Japan

9:06 AM  
Blogger tik-tiki said...

many of the sweets start with milk and sugar cooked down.

you can add the bay leaf (or two) when you add the cardamon!

12:12 AM  

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