Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Recipe: Idichu Pizhinja Payasam

When I had written about the Wedding feast, one of the commenters said that (s)he had never heard of Idichu Pizhinja Payasam and I had promised I would post the recipe soon. I was waiting for a good excuse to prepare this payasam and the golden opportunity dawned today. Today was the “star birthday” of our elder son and as has been our practice for the past 15 years or more, we celebrated his birthday in his absence. Usually, we cook a grand lunch and he eats whatever stuff is available at his work place away from home. Thankfully, this time he went to my cousin’s home and had a grand lunch.

So for the birthday lunch, we prepared Mango kootan, Idichakka poduthuval (tender raw jackfruit curry), idichu pizhinja payasam, vadam and of course rice and curds.

While the recipes for Mango kootan and idichakka poduthuval will come later, today we will have the recipe for idichu pizhinja payasam.

The idichu pizhinja payasam is the most favoured payasam among Keralites and it gets its rather complicated name from the fact that the coconut milk, which is the main ingredient of this payasam, was extracted in the olden days by pounding the grated coconut in a stone mortar (called an “Ural” in malayalam and Tamil and “Okhali” in Hindi). The malayalam term for pounding and extracting is “idichu pizhinju” and hence the name. It is also known by the name Chathachathayam. It is the main neyvedyam in our Annapoorneswari temple during Navarathri, at which time this payasam is made with some 50kgs of rice and milk extracted from some 600 to 700 coconuts. The payasam is made in large urulis or charakkus and is stirred with long handled ladles known as chattukam which measure some 2 mts. long. I will try to get pictures of these during my visit to my native village next month. For the neyvedyam in our temple, a special type of banana known as kadali in malayalam is used. This is not very popular in Bangalore although I did see it in California during our last visit. I have not used this in my recipe. No flavouring agents like cardamom powder or dry ginger powder is used in the payasam and the natural fragrance of the coconut milk and kadali pazham and pure ghee enhance the flavour of this payasam.

It was very difficult for me to scale down the recipe for 4 servings, and I ventured to try it with milk from ½ coconut. I have never made this with less than 2 coconuts.

The pictures show the actual quantity of milk obtained from ½ a coconut and the quantity of payasam got from using the ingredients mentioned below.


(4 servings)

Milk from ½ a coconut
Readymade coconut milk ½ tin

Raw rice : ¼ cup
Jaggery : 1 cup
Sugar : 2 tbsp
Pure ghee: 2 tbsp


Extract coconut milk as explained in the recipe for Parippu Pradhaman.

Wash and cook the rice in the third milk (thinnest) . (This can be done in a pressure cooker).

Melt the jaggery in one cup of water and strain it to remove sand particles and other impurities.

Transfer the cooked rice to a thick bottomed wide mouthed vessel. Add the jaggery syrup and boil until the rice and the jaggery syrup are well blended and the raw jaggery smell disappears. Add the ghee and stir well.

(If using the bananas – make small round pieces of the banana and fry them in ghee until well blended and add to the payasam now.)

Add the second milk (thinner variety) and boil for another 5- 6 minutes until the payasam starts thickening. Add the first milk (thickest) and immediately switch off the stove. Keep stirring with a long handled ladle for another 5 minutes to prevent crust formation.


P.S. : As I have said earlier this payasam is made in thick uruli made of an alloy called oodu in malayalam and vengalam in Tamil. This is a very thick alloy and retains heat for 1 – 2 hours. Hence the first milk is added only after removing the uruli from the stove. The payasam is not heated after the addition of first milk as the first milk might separate releasing coconut oil if heated.


Anonymous said...


A lovely post - there is so much historical context in everything you write...

I will let you know how it turns out when I do make it...


bee said...

you have one fabulous blog. i just saw this recipe in ammini ramachandran's 'grains, greens and grated coconuts book', and now you have it here.

thank you for this detailed explanation and for putting it in context.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ammupaati
Thanks for posting the recipe as requested (via my comments on the wedding feast post). I love your writing style and the little anectodes within the post. Will try this recipe - seems to be quite calorie intensive :)

Anonymous said...

Ammupaati - Managa kootan and Idi chakka poduthuval with idichu pizhinja payasam mmmmmmmmmm - the same kind of food that I have at my mom's place. We used to have Chakka maram in my house in Chennai and just when the chakkai was right for poduthuval, we would cut it from the tree. And lots of mangoes fresh from the trees in the backyard. Summer was always filled with manga kootan.

I think the kind of kadhali that you say is available in California is the nendram type - the ones that come from Jamaica.

Menu Today said...

I am first time here, payasam looks nice, we make with wheat rawa. Thanks for sharing.

sindhu said...

Dear Ammu Patti,

Idichu Pizhinja Payasam is simply my favorite - the name itself is so beautiful and evocative - I can almost feel the taste from your writing. Thank you for your wonderful blog and the anecdotes. Happy Vishu to you and your family!


Ayesha Seerin said...

You got such authentic recipes.. Very nice to read them.

Anonymous said...

dear maam
this is a very interesting recipe
i have seen this made when i was very young during vacations (Thrissur).The beauty of any dish is that u can taste all the ingredients.shall call ur elder son to taste it as well.have become a fan of this space

Ammupatti said...

Hi Hema

I am sure your payasam would have turned out fabulous.

Hi anonymous

Thanks for your plans to call our son to taste the paysam. Happy cooking.

Hi nature and me

Kadhali is different from Nendran pazham.

Diya said...

Ammupatti, I had an urgent question! I am planning to make this payasam for a friend's birthday. Just wanted to know though- in the Indian grocery stores in the US, I have seen two kinds of jaggery, a light brown one and a really dark brown one. I guess one is made from sugarcane and the other from the palm tree. Which is better for these payasams? Would love to hear from you! Thanks, Diya

Ammupatti said...

Hi Diya

I wish you success. Use the sugarcane jaggery.

Happy cooking

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I also added some cashewnuts, raisins and small bits of copra fried in ghee, just like my mom does. The payasam came out pretty well, I think- even if I say so myself:)

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to add my name after the comment. Thanks again, Ammupatti.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Diya


I am glad your payasam came out pretty well. Happy cooking.

Gayatri said...

Dear Ammupatti,

I was surfing and came across your blog accidentally. But I am very glad to have come across it. Thanks a ton to God for that!!!!

The site is wonderful and the infomration which answers the question "why" is what I like the most.

Have a request if you could post the following two recipes from scratch though!! Vazhayakai curry/poduthuval and vazhaya poo parp usli....please?

Thanks in advance!!! I also like your knitting patterns could you please post the pattern details as to how many K and P for the benefit of teh up coming knitters please...

Thanks again...

Ammupatti said...

Hi Gayatri

I am glad you like the contents of my blog.

I shall try to post the recipe for Vazhakkai poduthuval very soon. Vazhapoo, mm I am really not very fond of making vazhaipoo preparation, because of the effort it takes in cleaning it. I shall post a parippu usali, you can use the same method for vazhaipoo as well.

Whis knitting pattern are you referring to?

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Hi Ammupatti,

I am a Tanjore Tamil Iyer girl and I recently got married to a Kerala Iyer boy. I am in the process of learning Kerala recipes, and stumbled on your blog. It was great to see the recipes that you have put up - Idichu pizhinja payasam, puzhukku etc. My husband loves mango kootan. Could you please post the recipe for that ? Thanks a lot !!!