Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Recipe: Maasi Pournami Payasam

The payasam made on Maasi Pournami day invariably was made with milk, jaggery and rice. It had a special taste, as it was made with milk from the home reared cow which grazed on natural organic grass. The method is very simple and it tasted delicious.


Rice: 4 tbsp.
Full cream milk: ½ litre
Powdered jaggery: 1 cup

Boil the powdered jaggery with 1 cup of water. When the jaggery dissolves, strain to remove the impurities and sand particles. Keep aside.

Wash and drain the rice. In a pressure cooker add the milk and 2 cups of water and bring to boil. Add the rice and lower the heat. Place the weight on the weight valve, when there is a steady steam coming out. Cook for 20 minutes and switch off the stove. When the pressure cooker cools down, open the lid and add the strained jaggery mixture and boil until the payasam thickens.

Offer to the Gods and enjoy with your family and kids from the neighbourhood.

May your kids have a long and healthy life!

Maasi Pournami

Sometime back I had promised to write about maasi pournami. Pournami is the full moon day and Maasi Pournami is the full moon day in the tamil month of Maasi(February-March). Almost all full moondays are celebrated in a special manner with some festival attached to the day. These full moondays are also known by the star with which the Pournami concides. Like in the month of Maasi the Pournami falls on the star Makam and hence is also known as Maasi Makam. In the following month , Pankuni(March-April) it falls on the star Uthiram and hence the day is celebrated as Pankuni Uthiram and so on.

The Maasi makam festival is celebrated in many Devi temples and Siva temples in Kerala and Tamilnadu.

Maasi Pournami for us during our childhood was a day of literally getting drunk with payasam. On this day, all the households made payasam in the evening and offered it to the Moon God, praying for the long life and good health of the children. The payasam was then distributed to all the children in the neighbourhood. When the children are happy they in turn wish the family and making children happy meant making the Gods happy. We children invited all the other children in the neighbourhood to have payasam at our home and in turn got invited to all the other houses.

Children were made to sit in the open in the backyard,(which in most of the houses was paved) and payasam was served in banana leaves with a piece of coconut and jaggery and a plantain.. We were also given 5 paise or 10 paise coins at the end of the feast. 5 paise or 10 paise meant a lot those days. We could, for example, buy an ice stick (just frozen sweetened water, which we thought was the ultimate goody) or a toffee or take a raffle from the neighbourhood shop, which promised things like sunglasses and cameras and all of us ultimately got a comb or a whistle or just a toffee.

We had to go to all the houses for tasting the payasam and by the time the evening closed, we all would be so full that we just could not think of food for many more days to come. And so we thought, and we would slowly amble towards our houses and whom should we meet on our way. The lady of the house which we had missed tasting the payasam and she would not let us go without having her payasam. We all would then share the story of Lord Ganesha who was mocked by the Moon God, and was in turn cursed by the Lord. By the end of the evening when we reached home, we did not have strength even to stand. Those were fabulous times.

There was another ritual also on Maasi Pournami day, which was known as “Aimparai”. A necklace was made by threading 5 coins made of copper, iron, silver, brass and an alloy of iron, silver and copper which was then given to of children below the age of 5 years. This was supposed to protect them from evil eyes and all childhood related health problems.

Even today, I celebrate Maasi Pournami by offering Payasam to the Moon God. Until a few years ago, when my brothers and families lived only 2 kms away, they came around to have payasam in our house. Now that they have moved a little farther away and the children have grown up, I don’t have any little kids to offer the payasam, unless some family visited us with their kids per chance. I continue to make payasam.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Recipe: Semiya Payasam

We will start with a delicious sweet once again. Though most of us are familiar with semiya payasam, I have found that the payasam just doesn’t taste as good. My beautiful and talented niece says, “Athai’s payasam tastes just like ice cream.” Our sons say, “ammas special payasam, nobody else makes it as delicious and lip smacking.” Enough about self glorification. Let’s go straight to the recipe.


Semiya (Vermicelli) : ¾ cup
Full cream Milk: 1 litre
Sugar: ¾ cup
Ghee: 2 tbsp.
Cashew nuts: 8 nos.
Raisins: 1 tbsp.
Cardamom powder: 1 tsp.


Heat 1 tbsp. of gheee in a wide mouthed, thick bottomed pan. Break the cashew nuts into small pieces and fry them in the ghee to a golden color, remove. Add the raisins fry them until they are fluffy, remove. Add the remaining ghee and fry the vermicelli to a golden brown. Add ½ litre of milk and boil, stir occasionally so that the milk doesn’t get burnt nor boil over. When the vermicelli has absorbed all the milk, add some more milk and allow the vermicelli to cook well. It will take approximately 20 minutes. When the vermicelli is cooked (it should be mushy in consistency), add the sugar and remaining milk. Boil for some more time until the payasam is thickened. Remove from the stove and add the cardamom powder. Garnish with fried cashew nuts and raisins.Yummy and delicious semiya payasam is ready. The whole process of preparing takes about 30 minutes. When you have unexpected guests and you want to serve them a delicacy, this IS THE DISH.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Welcome to The Empire

Once again a long period of inactivity (only in blogging). I was fully occupied otherwise, which was the cause of my not spending enough time on this blog. Among the very important assignments, one of which was searching for a perfect match for my younger son of course, we were also busy with creating 2 other blogs.

Kathai Kathayam Karanamam is a blog that has been in gestation for a very long time. This is an attempt to share the stories we had heard as children and also what I had read to my children when they were little. The first story is already up, Matha Pitha Guru Deivam. We will be adding many more, please visit often and give me suggestions as always.

Our younger son who returned to India after spending more than a decade in the US has started blogging his experiences in India of today, from an outsider’s point of view. He is writing Just Landed.

Now that we have 3 blogs going, we are now officially a media empire. We are all part of the ever-expanding Blandings Media Empire.

Hope you enjoy reading both the blogs.

Happy Reading.