Semiya/Payasam/Sivaiyyan: Roasted Vermicelli In Sweet Seasoned Milk

A very common dessert in both the north and south of India, this is one sweet dish that is served at the most important holidays and functions as it is on any ordinary day.

The inspiration for the creation of this dish today came from a friend who lives in the large southern metropolis of India, Chennai.  We are engaged in an exercise of “sharing and learning” where one of us prepares a dish and provides a recipe for it, and the other replicates it even as she may alter it in terms of either ingredient or technique.  And yet, it is the same recipe.  My main variation of this dish is in the technique, while most of the ingredients are the same, although I have added one significant one:  sabudana, aka, Tapioca Seeds.  Also, I make mine on the thicker side.

So, my friend’s recipe for this dish is presented below, and my written recipe for it is available on the last two pictures in the set of pictures that follows.  Between these two, you might find inspiration to customize it for yourself, perhaps?  If so, good luck; if not, enjoy this grand visual offering prepared by yours truly earlier today.

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My friend KJ’s recipe follows.  My version upon which this dish is made may be found in the one picture that follows (I hastily scribbled my recipe on the back of an envelope while I was making it!):

Ingredients:
1 cup Vermicelli
3/4 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
A pinch Saffron
1 cup Milk
3-4 Cashew nuts
7-8 Raisins
2-3 Cardamom
Method:
  • Saute the vermicelli in ghee till it turns brown.
  • Boil the water in another vessel
  • Put the vermicelli in the boiling water and cover it for a bit, while stirring the mixture occasionally.
  • After the vermicelli becomes soft, add the sugar while making sure to stir the mixture continuously.
  • Fold in the milk and whisk the mixture till you find the vermicelli has taken the flavour in its fold.
  • Powder the cardamom and add it to the mixture. (this is optional, I didn’t do it because not many of us like cardamom here at home)
  • Flavor the desert with fried cashew nuts and almonds. (You can also try raisins)
  • Simmer the vermicelli for about two minutes. Your delicious payasam is ready to be served- serve cold or piping hot- works either way!
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Chocolate Cake w/ Fudge Frosting and Sprinkles: Yes, Let Them Eat Cake!

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Sometimes one lucks-out, i.e., is the recipient of unexpected good fortune.  Which was what my fate was last evening. 

My firstborn was baking a big chocolate cake for a Bake Sale in her school, when she felt exceptionally generous and decided to make–for all of us lesser mortals who share a roof with her–a Double-Layer Chocolate Cake with a Creamcheese Frosting between layers and a Fudge Frosting on top with sprinkles and stars to boot.

Here’s what it all looked liked!  Check out the series of pictures below.  Mmmmmm!  Mmmmm!  Mmmm!

Revdi: Another Favorite North Indian Snack

Some days back, I’d written about Petha, that ubiquituous Indian sweet that you eat without thinking.  Click here for a refresher.

Well, there’s another Indian sweet, more of a sweet snack really, called Revdi.  It’s like hard candy:  made of sugar, either white or brown into flat rounds that are covered with sesame seeds.  In the winter months, they are very popular, especially toward the end of winter at the holiday known as Lohri.  To bid farewell to the winter, bonfires are made, and popcorn and revdi are eaten while watching the bright flames. 

These are my memories of revdi, and the other day, I bought a box of the same for old times’ sake.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that nobody didn’t NOT like it!

This particular kind of revdi is made with gur or jaggery, a variation of brown sugar.  It is therefore called Gur Revdi.  Get some if you can, and make your own memories! 

Petha: The Ubiquitous Mithai of Northern India

I’ve eaten a lot of Petha growing up in Uttar Pradesh, India, as a child.  There’d always be a piece or two in a mixed-mithai box, and of course, you could buy it separately, if you wished.  I was never a big fan of it, but I never disliked it either.  The petha from Agra was always said to be the best of its kind.

Made from pumpkins and melons, the petha is quite a unique sweet, and the other day, I happened to chance on it in our local Indian grocery store.  For old times’ sake, and to introduce it to my kids, I picked it up and brought it home.

“Interesting candy” is the comment I got from my secondborn– which is saying a lot, considering she might not have ventured with a second bite had she not liked the first!  But she did, which brought a big smile to my face, and I thought to myself I should bring some Gur Revdi the next time!

Here’s what it looked like.  If you wish to learn more about Petha, check out the wiki entry here.  And if you want to try some, go get some! 

Blueberry Cheesecake Extraordinare: Not Available In Stores!

Holidays are occasions for grand productions in the kitchen so as to produce grand results on the table.  The most recent holiday commonly known as Easter was the latest such occasion for one such production.  But each production has a pièce de résistance, and in this case, it was dessert.  And no ordinary dessert was this:  it was a most decadent German Cheesecake made in the authentic style of no-crust and having cottage-cheese as a dominant ingredient.  Plus, it was made from scratch with the most wholesome ingredients, no preservatives or artificial anything, thank you very much, and made with all the love we (i.e., my firstborn and I) could spare in an exercise of this magnitude!

And if you think all this is too divine and couldn’t get any better than that, well, it actually could– and did– thanks to the magnificent garnish of the freshest of fresh blueberries that we topped it with.  Strawberries are so passe, we think, and so blueberries it was!

See for yourself what I mean!

Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes: Made (w/ Love) To Give Away!

So, last weekend, my firstborn was in an exceptionally generous frame of mind– even more so than her normal self which is still excessive in my opinion– and became possessed to bake a batch of Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes.  All so that she could give them away to friends.  For no special reason at all, I was told.  Well, I of course, had no intention to protest whether or not there was a reason for the occasion, and especially because such generous bouts of temperament usually meant that I (and others in the family) would also be the beneficiary of such generosity! 

And so here they are:  a grand batch of the moistest Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes, glazed with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorated with a simple heart shape.  What could say, I’m So Glad You’re My Friend better than that?