Payesh : Rice pudding from Eastern India

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It is 1 am. You are listening to this. You are flipping through his web album, staring at his pictures. So many He-s. You cannot decide which one is your favourite. The one where he is at the TT table, his eye on the ball, the one where you can see the filigree of veins on his arm. Or the one where he is looking out at the sea, his body framed by a fossilised tree.

And then…

R is engaged to R

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So you sigh and sigh and sigh and sigh.  You wish you had said something. Something other than “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

And then you get up. You walk to the refrigerator. You open it and you say something that rhymes with luck. You curse yourself for having been greedy. For having munched down your last bar of Lindt 85% Cocoa. Curse yourself even harder because you are on a diet.

So you make this. You make this because you know it will take an hour. And you want something to comfort you. You break some rules.  You want to be a good girl no more. You don’t want to soak the rice. You don’t want to boil the milk. You put the water on boil and you add the rice. You add the milk. And you stir and stir and stir and stir. You think about your first memory of this. Of you and your sister. Of that big house with big people. Their big laughter. Your father’s people.

You remember your little sister and her big frown. You remember how she screwed up her face when people called you twins. You remember sitting cross-legged on the terrace with her. With your other cousins. Waiting for the bhojji to start. Waiting for someone to place a leaf plate in front of you. You are hungry. You have been running up and down the house all day. Up and down and up and down and up and down. It is May. Your cousin is getting married. You have lost your first tooth.

You think all this and you stir and stir and stir and stir. You add the cashew-nuts and raisins. And you sigh. You remember the array of dishes in front of you. How the dali almost scalded your tongue. How your sister lifted the khajuri from her tamata-khajuri khata (date and tomato chutney) and placed it on your plate. How you wondered why that leaf bowl beside your plate was still empty. How you saw a steel balti swinging by you. You remember the balti stopping before you and  this being dropped into your bowl. “Paaess“, he had said. You lick the dali-bhata off your fingers and dip your fingers inside the bowl. It is hot. You do what your mother does before she plunks those tiny spheres of dalma-bhata into your sister’s mouth everyday. You blow on it. Phu-Phu-Phu. You love this stuff. You love its velvety texture. You love the fact that your sister picks out all the kaju in her bowl and places it in yours. You ask for a second helping.

You turn off the heat and add the jaggery. And you stir and stir and stir and stir. You sigh. You decide to taste a spoonful of the payesh. And you smile.

Ingredients:

Rice : 3-4 tablespoons

Milk (full fat) : One litre

Sugar : According to taste, plus some more for making the caramel

Date jaggery : A small piece

Cashew nuts : 8-10

Raisins : 8-10

Cardamom : One pod, crushed

Ghee : One tablespoon

Notes:

-You can make this even if you don’t have date jaggery available. Add some date syrup at the end. Or do what my mother does. Increase the amount of caramel. You will end up with a payesh that looks and tastes almost like the real thing.

-You can use normal basmati rice in place of gobind bhog. Just make sure you cook it till it breaks down.

-You can boil and reduce the milk to a  half, cook the rice till it breaks down, and then combine and cook them together. This would be quicker, I think.

-Some professional cooks in Orissa add creme as a shortcut. I wouldn’t recommend that.

Tap on the first picture to see a step-by-step demonstration. There are typos in some of the pictures. I have not been able to edit those. Do overlook them.

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14 thoughts on “Payesh : Rice pudding from Eastern India

  1. Sandeep

    excellent writing…gal u should go professional!!and i ain’t kidding about this…you are seriously good…and u did remind me about many childhood bhoji’s tht i have been through!!!

    Reply
    1. More Than Just Curry Post author

      Thanks a ton! I really miss bhojis you know! And not just because I am so many miles away from home…but because even in Orissa there aren’t many bhojis to speak of now days…its all about chilly fish and nav ratna korma :(

      Reply
  2. Namrata

    seriously good write up and seriously good food! suchi..i agree with the guy who says u shud go professional! u got me so nostalgic..only in my case i was the younger one picking up the raisins and cashews and putting them in my sister’s plate :) is this universal??!!!

    Reply
    1. More Than Just Curry Post author

      Thank you so much Nammie! You guys stopping by and reading this means a lot to me…and as for the second question, I can only grin ear to ear and say “perhaps, perhaps, perhaps” ;)

      Reply
  3. Geetanjalee

    I love this post!! It bought bk so many memories…lovely writing! U r a pro! mwaah!

    Reply
  4. Kshitiz

    Hi Suchi, the blog is awesome, and now I am only waiting to have it in office. Manda pitha or payesh, its your choice!! And I will not share it with Shradha… And I like the pictures too.

    Reply
  5. Nitesh Raj

    Aww man!! To think how I survive on eggs and toast during “such” moments. I too need to learn how to cook awesome stuff. This was inspirational :)

    Reply
      1. Nitesh Raj

        :D the lack of culinary skills and resources often find me during these moments. Of course I sometimes get financially lucky and order something good :)

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