November 4th, 2013
Mung Dal Payasam/Indian Lentil Pudding
I recently received a mail from an avid reader of divinetaste which amidst other things stated that she admires my beautiful life. Life of course is a mixture of many things, happiness, sadness, victory, defeat, tears and laughter and just as the seasons change, so does life itself. And my life too mirrors these expressions of change that life itself brings about.
Perhaps, this has been the longest break I have taken here and this has been due to a turn of certain events in my life. But, I hope to comeback with a lot of exciting things in the new future. All the recipe requests made to me sit neatly in a folder and I hope to cater to them too, turn by turn. I hope you will have the patience to bear with me till that happens. Payasam, payasa or payesh or kheer as it is known in northern India is one of the integral components of Indian cooking, having been cooked for generations since thousands of years. Moong Dal Payasam, a traditional vedic recipe is one of my personal favourites. And it features three of my favourite ingredients that are brimming with nutrition and taste, mung dal, coconut and jaggery. Mung dal enjoys a high status in Ayurvedic cooking as it is considered to be the least flatulent amongst dals. According to K.T. Achaya “Buddha recommends it in a group of foods that is “full of soul qualities” and “devoid of faults”. I clearly cant fathom the fuss around coconut these days. My grandmothers have used it profusely in cooking and continue to do so even now. Mind you, they are well into their eighties and can’t do without their daily fix of coconut. I follow suit and use it regularly wherever the dish calls for it. Ofcourse moderation is key but apart from the nutritional significance of coconut, my grandmother has a simple home remedy for most ailments-coconut oil! And jaggery happens to be the most unrefined form of sugar. Packed with nutrients, great for digestion and a remedy for many diseases. I have an incurable sweet tooth and if I dont have a sweet on hand after a meal, I’m always haapy to pop in a piece of jaggery into my mouth. And ofcourse, I love to cook with it. Jaggery has made its way into my cakes, cookies and many other dishes from savoury to sweet.
The colour of this payasam depends on the colour of the jaggery used. Although I use only unrefined organic jaggery and not the bleached lighter colour variety, I have had different shades of colour in this payasam based on various kinds of jaggery. When I made it recently it had the most gorgeous golden brown colours which would have photographed better but unfortunately the batch of payasam I made the day I took these pictures don’t showcase the vibrant hues of the payasam. But, as far as it tastes good, it doesnt matter. And this tastes fabulous! Make it for a festive lunch or dinner or incorporate it into an everyday meal when you are craving something sweet. The perfect hint of sweetness and balance of the three prime ingredients make this an exotic yet simple and homely dish. I have not had a single person whom I have served this dish to, not like it! And this is so very good for growing children. I’m glad that my little fellow likes it too. P.S.-thanks once again for all the emails and messages and for writing to me. That plays a major role in inspiring me to continue writing here.
Moong Dal Payasam/Indian Lentil Pudding Recipe
You can use ready made coconut milk. But, nothing can beat the freshness and taste of freshly squeezed coconut milk
210 gm (1 cup) yellow mung dal (split green gram dal without skin)
625 ml (2 1/2 cups) water
220 gm (1 cup) jaggery
100 gm (1 cup) fresh or frozen coconut shreds,if making your own coconut milk.
500 ml (2 cups) water for making coconut milk
2 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp cashews
1 tbsp raisins
4 green cardamom seeds, powdered
Dry roast the moong dal for about 4 to 5 minutes, until it turns a light brown in colour and acquires a nutty flavour. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile make the coconut milk. Place 1 cup coconut in a blender and pour 1 cup lukewarm water. Keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes. If you dont have the time then proceed further. Blend to a smooth paste. Extract the milk with the help of a strainer by squeezing all the liquid. This is the first extract. Make the 2nd extract by pouring another cup of water to the remaining coconut shreds and repeat the process.
Wash the mung dal and cook the with 2 1/2 cups of water for about 2 whistles. If you are using non organic dal, then 1 whistle should do.
After the pressure comes down, add the jaggery and cook till it turns thick, this should take about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk from the 2nd extract and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and mix in the coconut milk from the first extract. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and turn off the heat.
In a small seasoning pan, heat the ghee, add the cashews and when they turn a light golden brown, put in the raisins. Turn off the heat. Mix in the dry fruits and the powdered cardamom.
Serves 4 to 6