Payasam is made using milk, sugar and either sago, rice or vermicelli. It is made all over the sub- continent with some variation and I think is one of the most commonly made “sweet” at home.
I have created this recipe with coconut milk and jaggery instead of milk and sugar. I have also spiced it up with star anise, black pepper and lots of cardamom.
½ cup sago
1 plus ½ cup of water
100 grams dark jaggery or dark muscavado sugar
60 grams cashew pieces, soaked in warm water for an hour
400ml tin of coconut milk
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
50 grams slivered almonds
2 tablespoons coconut chips
Put the cashew pieces and a couple of tablespoons of water into a small blender cup and blend to a fine puree.
Pan roast the coconut chips until golden brown. Do the same with the slivered almonds and set aside for garnish.
In a mortar and pestle, make a coarse powder with the black peppercorns and cardamom.
Boil one cup of water in a medium sized sauce pan and pour the measured sago once the water comes up to the boil. Add sago and cook until all the water is absorbed.
Pour the coconut milk along with the half cup of water. Stir to mix and gently simmer on low heat. Add jaggery and mix to incorporate well.
Add the cashew paste along with the star anise. Continue to simmer for a further five minutes.
Stir in the spice powders. Remove from heat.
Serve warm with the slivered almonds and coconut chips piled up on top.