Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sweet and simple "Payox" (Rice Pudding Dessert)

Now that I have started to blog regularly and have been feeling a little less "shy" about sharing my blog in front of my friends and family members, they have started to take notice on the changes that all these years has brought in me! For example, I never cooked much when I was at home in India. Also, I was completely unaware of the wonderful world of makeup and beauty!! The two main focus of my blog :-)

I am now pretty confident in inviting a few guests over and prepare a presentable and somewhat “enjoyable” dinner course. But one thing always scared me; it still does! That “thing” in question is dessert! To be honest, I am not really "crazy" about it either! I have not developed a huge interest in baking, yet! And I don't really know any Indian dessert from Sewai and Suji :-) I guess I thought I will butcher the savoriness in any dessert… :-) 

But a few months ago, I don't remember exactly how but I had to face a situation where I needed to make some dessert and I had some ethnic aromatic rice that I brought from India! So I finally gathered up some courage and decided to make some "Payox" :-) or Kheer as you all may more familiar with!  I picked up my phone and called my father (yes, my father! He is an awesome cook) and he gave me the basic steps for making Payox. Then my mother offered her help and shared some simple but important tips that she follows!

Payox (Rice Pudding/Kheer/Payasam) is a very sweet Indian dessert delicacy! It’s almost always a must have in any auspicious occasion. I remember my mom cooking it utmost sincerity whenever she will offer puja for any holy occasion! Almost every mother that I know back home still makes “payox” for her kid’s birthday; no matter how old she or he is!! It’s something that mothers in Assam do :-) I always perceived it to be a tricky item to cook but when I followed the recipe my parents shared, I realized I never had a reason to be scared of making dessert, at least for "Payox". There is not a lot to be done in the recipe; all you need the ingredients and stir occasionally. I have fallen in love with the simplicity of the recipe and have started to make it at least twice a month these days! I even intend to make it during my long-term hotel stays for my work! It's that simple :-)

Ingredients: Rice (Any aromatic rice is good, I use the scented variety known as Joha Saul in Assam), Bay Leaves, Almond, Raisin, Honey, Cardamom, Milk (I use 2% or whole milk; more fatty is definitely better), Ghee.

  • Soak a handful of rice in a bowl of warm water for at least 1 hr.
  • Crush the rice using your hands after it’s soaked. You will see them breaking into smaller pieces. Crushed rice pieces makes the dish look aesthetically pleasing, at least to my eyes! :-)
  • Meanwhile, warm up the milk in "medium heat". I love my payox to be a little runny, so I use a lot of milk (Almost half a gallon for a handful of rice; around 2 litre). You will need to keep stirring occasionally; otherwise the milk may get adhered to the bottom of the pan!
  • After 10-15 minutes when the milk is a bit warm, add the rice and keep stirring from time to time.
  • After a while add the raisin, bay leave and almond. 
  • Remove the seed from the cardamom and crash it as small as you can. Add it into the mixture. All these ingredients will start feeling up your kitchen with a lovely aroma.
  • I use both honey and sugar in 3:1 proportion for bringing in the sweetness. I believe using more honey gives me a little bit of peace of mind. (You know, you gotta think about your calorie intake ;-)
  • After around 30-45 minutes, you can see the rice getting boiled and soaking up/puffing up.
  • Keep stirring, the milk will start getting condensed. Depending on the consistency or thickness of the Payox you want, you might need to add more milk!
  • I believe one of the key points in making the perfect payox is to allow the milk to get condensed and cook slowly for a longer time. Boiled and condensed milk has a different kind of taste itself.
  • I love to add a few more almond pieces just for garnishing. 
  • Payox surprisingly tastes good when served hot as well as when keep refrigerated overnight. I prefer the later :-)
This is one very simple but very popular dessert in India. And I am happy that I finally learnt to make it. I hope you also enjoyed it! I would love to hear back.

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