A slurp of sweetness

A slurp of sweetness

A slurp of sweetness

The smell of fresh flowers filling up the entrance of a Keralite’s home today will put a smile on one’s face. While the spread during ‘Onasadhya’ is one that everyone looks forward to, it’s the final addition of the ‘payasam’ hitting your palate is the highlight of the grand occasion.

The traditional recipe for ‘payasam’ is the one that many have been following for years. But this year, a few Bengalureans took it upon themselves to modify that and give a healthy twist to the dessert. Sundari Giri, a professional, has created the dessert using foxtail millet.

She says, “My friends and I decided to try something interesting this year to make ‘pradhaman’ which is a thick ‘payasam’ made with jaggery and coconut milk. I’ve worked with foxtail millet that is gluten-free.

It’s packed with nutrients, rich in iron and fibres and is perfect for babies as well. Most of my friends and family members couldn’t tell the difference, some of them thought it had broken wheat!”

At Teena Augustine Joseph’s house, there’s a traditional ‘sadhya’ that everyone looks forward to. A researcher by profession she says, “My family and I are trying to become healthier these days, we so are cutting down on carbs, sugar and fats. Quinoa has a lot of health benefits and that’s why I used that to make ‘payasam’. Even with the addition of a rustic crunch to it, the sweet is still quite different from the velvety texture indulged in otherwise. My two-year-old also loved it, especially knowing how fussy children can be about this.”

With the love for food and cultural festivities spreading across the country, it’s not just Keralites who are celebrating this festival. Sujata Shukla, a chartered accountant by profession and blogger at ‘Pepper on Pizza’, is from Tamil Nadu and married into a family from Uttar Pradesh. With her interest, she has taken up the challenge to add her own flavour to the ‘payasam’ and churned out a ‘vanilla apricot black rice payasam’. She says, “I was a little concerned at first as I was not sure how the rice would transform into a ‘payasam’, how long to cook and the consistency. Luckily, it turned out to be delicious and the rice was cooked perfectly!” She has also not used any ‘ghee’ or oil; pistachio nuts are substituted for the usual cashew nuts and apricots for raisins.

As for Paluk Khanna, a senior finance manager and a Delhite, it’s the love for Kerala cuisine that has motivated her to try her version of ‘payasam’. She has prepared a ‘vegan dates and fig payasam’ and ‘Tender coconut payasam’. She says, “Two of my close friends are vegan and many others avoid ‘payasam’ due to the high refined sugar content. For my recipe, I’ve used dried fruits like dates and figs for the sweetness.

Everyone who tasted it loved it and many were surprised about the no sugar content. They asked for a second helping!” For the tender coconut recipe, she says, “ The freshness of the tender coconut for a ‘payasam’ is refreshing and light. Having a sweet tooth, this is just perfect for me.”

Indulging in delicious vegetarian food for the ‘sadhya’ and satisfying their sweet tooth by the end of the meal, a Keralite or not, food lovers are happy they have a reason to celebrate.

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