Nam Jim| Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

Nam Jim‘ is Thai for dipping sauce, of which there are many, many versions. There are several types of dipping sauces prepared in Thailand, to go with grilled meat, seafood, chicken, vegetables, hot pot and satay. Though most of these sauces are a mix of hot and sweet, salty and sour, there are variations in the ingredients and techniques used. Today, I am going to share with you all my recipe for a Thai-style dipping sauce – a sweet red chilli sauce.

This Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is inspired by memories of our holidays in Thailand, what I have learnt of the cuisine by observing and doing. It might not be the most authentic Nam Jim recipe, but I can assure you that it tastes absolutely delicious. This is a sweetish, moderately spicy and sour sauce that goes beautifully with most fried snacks, including samosas, spring rolls, cigars, cheese poppers and pakoras. Try it out, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Nam Jim, Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

A note on the ingredients used

Several Thai dipping sauces contain shrimp paste and/or oyster or fish sauce. However, this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is completely vegetarian, made using ingredients commonly available here in Bangalore. It is a vegan (plant-based) and gluten-free sauce, too.

I have used moderately spicy red Fresno chillies to make this sauce, along with tomato to give it more body and flavour. Some ginger and garlic go in, too. Sugar has been used to sweeten the sauce, and a mix of tamarind extract and white vinegar to sour it. There is no corn flour or other thickening agent used.

This Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is not fermented, as many sauces are. It is an instant sauce, one that can be used immediately after preparation, though I believe the flavours intensify after a day or so of the making.

Red Fresno chillies, which I have used to make this sauce

Other sauce and dip recipes on my blog

You might want to take a look at the other recipes for sauces and dips on my blog:

Nam Jim or Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce recipe

Here’s how to go about it.

Ingredients (makes about 1-1/2 cups):

1. A small piece of tamarind

2. 250 grams of red Fresno chillies

3. A 1-inch piece of ginger

4. 6-8 cloves of garlic

5. 1 medium-sized tomato

6. 1 teaspoon oil

7. Salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

8. 1 cup sugar or to taste

9. 1/8 cup white vinegar or to taste

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Below top right: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5, Bottom centre and left: Step 6

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water, so as to soften it. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

2. In the meantime, remove the tops from the Fresno chillies and chop them roughly, including the seeds. Chop the tomato roughly. Peel the ginger and garlic, and chop them up too.

3. When the tamarind has cooled down, squeeze out all the juice from it. Use water as needed to help with the extraction. I had a little less than 1/2 cup of extract.

4. Now, we will start making the Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for about a minute.

5. Add in the chopped tomato at this stage. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute till the tomatoes turn mushy, 3-4 minutes.

6. Now add in the chopped Fresno chillies and a little salt. Cook on medium flame for 5-6 minutes or till the chillies are almost done.

Top left and right: Step 7, Centre left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Bottom left and right: Step 10

7. Add the tamarind extract to the pan. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind is gone and the chillies are cooked. Considering that the skin of Fresno chillies is quite thick, they might not turn completely soft – just make sure they are not raw. Turn the flame down to low at this stage.

8. Add in the sugar and salt to taste. Mix well. Let the sugar get completely dissolved, which should take about 2 minutes. Switch off gas.

9. Mix in the white vinegar.

10. Allow the mixture to cool down completely, then transfer it to a mixer jar. Grind to a smooth puree. Let it settle for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Keep the Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce refrigerated and use as needed with a clean, dry spoon.

Related event: Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of passionate food bloggers that I am part of.

For the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, we participants post every month, based on a pre-determined theme. The participants are paired together, and every pair exchanges two ingredients secretly without the knowledge of the rest of the group. These secret ingredients are used by each participant to create a dish that fits into the theme of the month. A picture of each dish is then shared in the group, and the members try to guess the two secret ingredients that went into it.

The theme for September 2022 was ‘Chutneys and Condiments’, suggested by Preethi of Cakes & Curries. You guys have to check out the gorgeous Onion Jam she has prepared for the theme!

I was paired with Renu, the author of Cook With Renu, for the month. I suggested that Renu make a condiment using ginger and salt, and she came up with a unique recipe for Pickled Nasturtium Seeds – head to her blog to read the detailed proceedure! She assigned to me the secret ingredients of ‘tamarind’ and ‘garlic’, and I used them to make this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Tips & Tricks

1. You can use any variety of red chillies you prefer – adjust the quantity depending upon how hot they are. If they are too hot, you might want to remove the seeds before using them in the sauce. Adjust the quantities of other ingredients according to the spice level of the red chillies.

2. I prefer using red Fresno chillies (commonly available at Namdhari’s) as they are moderately hot and perfectly suited to our tastebuds. I do not remove the seeds. I do not need to wear gloves, but you might want to.

3. The tomato balances out the heat of the chillies and gives some body to the sauce. I use Nati (country) tomatoes for this purpose. Do not use too many tomatoes, which will make the sauce taste like tomato ketchup.

4. Adjust the quantity of tamarind as per personal taste preferences. Using white vinegar in addition to the tamarind gives the sauce just the right amount of acidity, fragrance and flavour. This also helps to retain the beautiful red colour of the chillies – using too much tamarind might darken the sauce.

5. Regular granulated sugar goes best in this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce, but you may use jaggery or coconut sugar instead. Adjust as per taste.

6. I prefer grinding the sauce smooth, but you can keep it chunky if you so prefer.

7. You may add some onion and/or lemongrass to give more flavour to the sauce. I typically don’t.

8. When bottled and refrigerated, this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce stays for up to a month. However, since it is made without any preservatives, it is better used sooner rather than later.

9. You may pass the sauce through a strainer before bottling it, but I prefer not to.

10. You can grind the chillies, ginger, garlic and tomato first and then cook the mixture to a sauce. However, I prefer doing it the way I have outlined above.

11. This sauce turns out quite thick, and does not need any thickening agent like cornflour. If you want to use it as a dipping sauce, take a small quantity in a bowl and dilute it with water as needed.

12. The flavours of this sauce intensify about a day after it is made. So, it is best prepared at least 24 hours before it is supposed to be used.

13. Be very careful while salting the sauce. Ideally, this sauce is supposed to be sweet and moderately spicy, with just a little salt to balance it out. About 1/2 teaspoon of salt in total should be good.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Kadak Masala Poori| Farsi Poori

Farsi Poori is an integral part of the Diwali celebrations in several Gujarati households. The coterie of Diwali farsaan or savoury dishes is incomplete without these little, crisp pooris. They can be made days in advance, and stay crisp for days on end. They are perfect to fill into jars and bring out when guests are visiting, just right with a cup of chai. They go beautifully with pickle or jam too, if you so prefer!

I know I say this every year, but this year it is especially true – I just can’t fathom how the months have flown by! It feels like 2022 just began. How is it almost time for Diwali already?! Anyhow, I wanted to share with you all recipes for a few sweets and savouries you could make this Diwali, and would like to begin with this one for Farsi Poori. Amma learnt how to make these from a Gujarati neighbour years ago, and they have been a permanent fixture at our place since, festival or not. Did I tell you they are lovely things to send in lunch boxes?

Farsi Poori or Kadak Masala Poori

Some other Diwali special recipes

You might want to check out the recipe for Omapodi on my blog, as well as this Aval Mixture and Chana Dal Namkeen. If you are thinking sweet treats, do take a look at my recipes for Mawa Gulab Jamun, Lauki Ka Halwa, Badam Kheer, and Sitaphal Basundi.

My fellow food blogger Priya Vijayakrishnan has shared a recipe for Namkeen Moong Dal, which I would love to try out this Diwali.

Then, there’s the Diwali Marundhu, the digestive that our wise ancestors would make, using a variety of spices and other ingredients, much needed after all the festival binge-eating.

Farsi Poori – ingredients needed

Like I was saying earlier, Farsi Poori refer to small, crunchy pooris that are typically made using maida and deep-fried. The word ‘farsi‘ means ‘crispy’ in Gujarati, and these pooris are definitely that. These pooris are a dry snack quite popular in Gujarat, especially during festivals like Diwali.

Here, I have deep-fried them as is traditionally done, but have substituted the maida for wheat flour. I think they still manage to be just as crunchy and delicious as the regular maida version.

Farsi Pooris sometimes have spices like carom seeds, pepper, cumin, and coriander powder added in. Sometimes, finely chopped fenugreek (methi) is also added to make them all the more flavourful. I have kept it really simple and added just a couple of basic spices – just some red chilli powder, asafoetida and carom (ajwain).

These are also sometimes referred to as ‘kadak pooris‘ or ‘kadak masala pooris‘. They are lovely as a tea-time snack, as I mentioned earlier. They are just as nice on their own, or dipped into pickle or jam, if you like that.

Vegan but not gluten-free

This recipe for Farsi Poori is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

However, due to the use of wheat flour and asafoetida (which most often contains wheat flour, in India), it is not gluten-free.

How to make Farsi Poori or Kadak Masala Poori

Here is how we go about it.

Ingredients (makes 25-30 small pooris):

1. 1 cup wheat flour plus some more for dusting

2. 2 tablespoons fine semolina (rava)

3. Salt to taste

4. 1/2 teaspoon carom (ajwain) seeds

5. 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (hing) powder

6. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste

7. Oil for deep-frying + 2 tablespoons

Method:

Top left: Step 1, Top right and below: Step 2, Bottom right: Step 3, Bottom left: Step 4

1. Take the wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the semolina, salt, carom seeds, asafoetida and red chilli powder. Mix everything well using your hands.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small tadka pan. Add this to the flour in the mixing bowl.

3. Mix the flour and the oil well together, with your hands.

4. Now, adding water little by little, bind the flour into a dough. The dough should be non-sticky, yet soft and pliable. Knead for 2 minutes.

5. Let the dough rest, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

Top left: Step 6, Top right and below: Step 7, Bottom right: Step 8, Bottom left: Step 9

6. After the dough has rested, divide it into 25-30 small balls.

7. Roll out the balls into thin circles, using a rolling pin, on a flour-dusted work surface. Usually these pooris are small, with a diameter of 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Prick these circles with a fork on both sides, to prevent them from puffing up while frying.

8. Heat oil for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Meanwhile, keep the dough circles covered.

9. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce the flame to medium. Drop one of the dough circles into the hot oil. Fry till it browns gently on both sides, flipping over a few times. Drain out the oil and transfer the fried dough to a plate. Now, fry the other prepared discs of dough in the same way. Your Farsi Pooris are ready. Let them cool down completely, then transfer to a jar. Store at room temperature for 7-10 days.

Tips & Tricks

1. In many Gujarati households, these Farsi Poori are made using maida. I prefer using wheat flour instead. You could also use a mix of maida and wheat flour.

2. Do not forget to prick the dough circles before deep-frying them. This will stop them from puffing up while frying and render them crispy.

3. The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky to the touch. It should be slightly more firm than regular roti dough.

4. Roll out the dough into discs that are thin, for best results. These pooris are usually small, but you can make them in any size you want.

5. Remember to keep the prepared dough circles covered while you are frying. This will prevent them from drying up and getting too hard.

6. You can add other spices like coriander powder, coarsely crushed cumin and black pepper and/or sesame seeds to the dough. I have added only asafoetida and carom seeds, here.

7. To test whether the oil for deep-frying has heated up enough, drop a small blob of the dough into it. The dough should rise up. If the dough does not rise up immediately, the oil needs to be heated up some more.

8. Fry the pooris on a medium flame only. This will ensure that they are evenly fried and turn out nice and crispy. Do ensure that they do not burn or that you do not over-fry them.

9. Use only fine semolina aka ‘Bombay rava‘. The thicker variety of rava does not lend itself well to this recipe. Since the wheat flour available at most places is super fine these days, the addition of rava gives the pooris a bit of texture. Alternatively, you could use wheat flour that is slightly coarsely ground, if that is accessible to you.

10. Adjust the quantity of salt and red chilli powder as per personal taste preferences.

11. You may air-fry or bake these Farsi Poori, but I prefer to deep-fry them the way they are traditionally made. We only occasionally indulge in them, anyways.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Pineapple Madhura Curry| Sweet Pineapple Curry

Pineapple Madhura Curry is an integral part of the Onam sadya in several households. It is a sweet curry made with ripe pineapple, a beautiful dish from the state of Kerala. It’s a flavour bomb, this curry, with sweet and sour and spicy tastes all rolled into one.

In today’s blog post, let me share with you all my family’s way of making Pineapple Madhura Curry. Do try it out this Onam! This is an absolutely delicious way to use up a ripe pineapple, I say.

Pineapple Madhura Curry or Sweet Pineapple Curry

Are you looking for other Onam sadya recipes? Check out this Nei Payasam, Moru Curry, Cabbage Poriyal, Mambazha Pulissery, Puli Inji, Palada Pradhaman and Dates Puli Inji.

A closer look at Pineapple Madhura Curry

Pineapple cooked into a curry that is potent enough to wake your tastebuds up from slumber – that’s Pineapple Madhura Curry for you. 🙂 ‘Madhura‘ means ‘sweet’ in Malayalam,  which indicates that this curry is, majorly, sweet. However, there are so many other layers of flavours happening here you’d be surprised if you haven’t tried this out before.

There is a version of Pineapple Madhura Curry made with curd, which is prepared in many Malayali families. However, the version I am sharing today, from my mother-in-law’s side of the family, does not include any curd.

This curry is not as popular as Pineapple Pulissery, which almost always occupies pride of place in an Onam sadya. I love this one slightly more than I do pulissery, though. 🙂

When you are not making an elaborate banana-leaf spread, I think this Pineapple Madhura Curry goes very well with rice and sambar or rasam. Especially if you like curries that are on the sweeter side, like me!

What goes into Pineapple Madhura Curry

Chunks of ripe pineapple are first cooked with a wee bit of salt, then further with the addition of jaggery. The sweetness in this curry comes inherently from the ripe pineapple as well as from jaggery.

Coarsely crushed coconut, mustard, cumin and green chillies are added to this mixture, not unlike this Beetroot Poriyal. Then, after a brief saute, the curry is ready. It is served with a simple tempering of mustard seeds, dry red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves.

How to make Pineapple Madhura Curry

This is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

To grind together:

1. 1/2 cup fresh coconut

2. 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 1 green chilli

4. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Other ingredients:

1. 2 cups ripe pineapple cubes

2. Salt to taste

3. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

4. A little less than 1/4 cup jaggery powder, or to taste

For the tempering:

1. 1 tablespoon coconut oil

2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 2 pinches of asafoetida

4. A sprig of fresh curry leaves

5. 2-3 dry red chillies

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre left and right: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Steps 4 and 5

1. Remove the core and thorns from all the pineapple cubes, then transfer them to a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the turmeric powder, a little salt and about 1/2 cup of water. Place the pan on high flame.

2. Mix the ingredients well. Let the pan get heated up and the water start bubbling, then reduce the flame down to medium. Allow the pineapple cubes to cook on medium flame till they are about 80% done, 5-6 minutes. Stir intermittently.

3. In the meantime, we will grind the paste this dish requires. Take the coconut, mustard seeds (listed under ingredients ‘to grind together’) and cumin seeds in a small mixer jar. Chop up the green chilli roughly and add it to the mixer jar too. Pulse a few times to get a coarse dry mixture – do not add any water. Keep this aside.

4. When the pineapple nearly 80% cooked and there is still a little water left over, add the jaggery powder to the pan. Mix well.

5. Continue to cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes more. By this time, the water would have almost dried up and the pineapple would have cooked through. Do remember not to overcook the pineapple, but let it retain its firmness.

Top left and right: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Step 7

6. At this stage, add the coconut mixture to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 1-2 minutes or till everything is well incorporated together. Switch off gas at this stage.

7. Now, we will prepare the tempering. Heat the coconut oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, without burning. Then, transfer this tempering to the pineapple curry. Mix well. The Pineapple Madhura Curry Is now ready. Let it come to room temperature, then serve alongside rice with rasam or sambar or as part of an elaborate banana-leaf spread.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use a pineapple that is ripe and juicy, but not overly so. Preferably, the pineapple should be firm and without any blemishes.

2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery and salt as per personal taste preferences. The same goes for the quantity of green chillies that you use.

3. If the heat from the green chillies is not enough, you can add a little red chilli powder. However, this is purely up to you. We keep this curry mildly spicy by adding just one green chilli, and do not use any red chilli powder.

4. Do not grind the coconut mixture to a paste. Just pulse it a few times in the mixer to get a coarse, dry mixture – that’s the texture that works best.

5. If the curry gets too dry while cooking, you can add in a little water. I didn’t need to. The end result should be a mostly dry, very slightly wet curry.

6. You may add in a small knob of ginger along with the coconut, while grinding. We usually don’t.

7. Do not cook the curry too much after the coconut mixture has been added. Just saute for 1-2 minutes for everything to get well assimilated.

8. You can also add in some cashewnuts, to make the curry richer. If so, use broken cashewnuts and add them raw, along with the jaggery.

9. You can also add a handful of grapes to this curry. Use seedless grapes, green or purple, and add them in while you add the coconut mixture to the pan.

10. Do not overcook the pineapple. It should be just cooked through, retaining its firmness.

11. Coconut oil goes best in the tempering for this curry, as in case of several dishes from Kerala. The tempering is done at the end, to ensure that the fragrance of the coconut oil remains intact.

12. This recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to people who follow a plant-based diet. It is not, however, gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to a greater or lesser extent, and are therefore best avoided whilst following a gluten-free diet. So, to make this Pineapple Madhura Curry gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Seeni Sambol| Sri Lankan Caramelised Onion Relish

Seeni Sambol is a beautiful condiment from the island nation of Sri Lanka, made using onions.

I made a batch of Seeni Sambol recently for a blog challenge I am participating in, and it turned out so, so good! I am glad I found an authentic recipe on the Internet, and made it with some little deviations. In today’s blog post, let me share with you all how I went about making this flavour bomb of a condiment, or relish if you want to call it that.

Seeni Sambol – it’s finger-lickingly delicious!

Exploring Sri Lankan cuisine

Sri Lankan cuisine is robust and flavourful, with ample use of fragrant spices, curry leaves, rice, coconut, tropical fruits, seafood, poultry. meat and local vegetables. Many assume that Sri Lankan food is just the same as Indian food, but it is definitely not – Sri Lanka has a distinct, unique and wonderful cuisine all of its own. Parippu (dhal) Curry, Polos (baby jackfruit) Curry, Kiribath (milk rice), Idiyappam (string hoppers), Appam (rice and coconut milk pancakes), Mallung (stir-fry), Wambatu Moju (eggplant pickle) and Pol Pani (coconut pancake) are some traditional vegetarian dishes from Sri Lanka. Different types of dry condiments (called ‘Sambol‘) are also an integral part of Sri Lankan cuisine – Pol Sambol (made with coconut), Amu Miris Sambol (made with green chillies), Lunu Miris (using red chilli), Gotukola Sambol (made using Asiatic pennywort), Karapincha Sambol (made with curry leaves), Katta Sambol (which is tangy) and Seeni Sambol (which is sweet and spicy) are a few examples.

Aided by a colleague of the husband’s, who is more like a friend, I have had the chance to try out some lovely Sri Lankan dishes, such as this Dhal Curry and Pol Sambol I made some time ago and absolutely adored. I am no expert in the country’s cuisine, but I love how this exploring brings me a little bit closer to the place and makes me feel what it would be like to visit some day!

What is Seeni Sambol?

Any dry condiment or chutney is called ‘sambol‘ in the Sinhalese language, and ‘Seeni Sambol‘ means ‘sambol that is sweet’. The sweetness comes from the slow caramelisation of onions, and along with the sour and spicy flavours that are added in, the Seeni Sambol is quite a force to reckon with.

Seeni Sambol is quite a popular thing in Sri Lanka, from what I understand. It is a hugely versatile condiment that is not just a great accomplishment to meals, but can also be used in several other ways. The Seeni Sambol can be stuffed into buns and sandwiches, and also in burgers. It goes well with rice, string hoppers and toasted bread alike. We polished off most of the sambol I made with dosas – it tastes so good that way too! – and then put the rest into sandwiches, along with some cheese.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this Seeni Sambol recipe in co-ordination with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of passionate food bloggers. We cook based on a pre-determined theme every month – we decided to explore Sri Lankan cuisine for the month of August 2022, and that’s how this post came about.

For the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, the participants are divided into pairs. Each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the group members. These ingredients are to be used by each member in preparing a dish that fits into the theme of the month. A picture of each finished dish is posted in the group, and everyone tries to guess the two secret ingredients that have gone into them. It’s super fun and challenging, and an incredible learning experience!

Narmadha, fellow food blogger at Nams Corner, loves Sri Lankan food, and she suggested we explore the same in August 2022. She has quite a few Sri Lankan dishes on her blog already, and you should definitely check out the droolworthy dessert Dodol she has dished up for the challenge!

I was partnered with Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds for the month, and suggested she make something using chickpeas and Sri Lankan curry powder. She used them in this beauty of a dish, Haath Maluwa or a Sri Lankan 7-vegetable curry. Can’t wait to try out your recipe, Kalyani! 🙂

Kalyani gave me ‘tamarind’ and ‘curry leaves’ as my secret ingredients, and I used both of them in Seeni Sambol.

Seeni Sambol recipe

Here is how I made the Seeni Sambol. I have adapted the proceedure from Top Sri Lankan Recipe, with a few little changes.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):

1. 3 medium-sized onions

2. A small piece of tamarind

3. 1/2 tablespoon oil

4. 2 green cardamom

5. A small piece of cinnamon

6. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

7. Salt to taste

8. Red chilli powder to taste

9. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 4, 5 and 6

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling hot water for 15-20 minutes. Allow it to soften.

2. Meanwhile, peel the onions and slice them thinly.

3. When the tamarind has cooled down enough to handle, extract all the juice from it. Keep the tamarind extract thick and not too watery.

4. Now, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the green cardamom, cinnamon and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a few seconds, without burning.

5. Add the sliced onions to the pan now, along with a little salt. Mix well. Turn the flame down to medium.

6. Saute the onions on medium flame for 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently. By this time, the onions would have become soft.

Left top and bottom: Steps 7 and 8, Right top and bottom: Steps 9 and 10

7. At this stage, add in salt and red chilli powder to taste. Add in the jaggery powder as well. Mix well.

8. Saute for a minute on medium flame.

9. Add the tamarind extract to the pan. Mix well.

10. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 more minutes till the raw smell of the tamarind has gone. Switch off gas when the ingredients come together into a homogeneous mixture and get a nice dark brown colour. Your Seeni Sambol is ready to use. If you are not using it immediately, allow it to cool down completely and then bottle it up. Store refrigerated.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used regular red onions here. From what I understand, these onions work best in this recipe.

2. You can use sugar in place of the jaggery I have used here. I prefer the jaggery.

3. I have used moderately spicy red chilli powder here. You can use red chilli flakes instead, too.

4. Remember to keep the tamarind extract thick and not too watery. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

5. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to make the Seeni Sambol. It is crucial to cook the mixture on medium heat, so the onions cook evenly and caramelise nicely, without burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

6. Some recipes suggest mincing the onions for the Seeni Sambol. I prefer finely slicing them, the way I have done here.

7. Some add a piece of pandan leaf and/or a lemongrass along with the whole spices. I have not used these ingredients as I did not have them.

8. You can add a few other whole spices like bay leaves, star anise and cloves too. I stuck to cinnamon and green cardamom only so as not to overpower the dish.

9. Keep the Seeni Sambol refrigerated when not in use, in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle or box. Use a clean, dry spoon only. This way, it stays for up to 2 weeks, but it is best to use it sooner rather than later.

10. This is a completely vegetarian recipe that is vegan (plant-based) as well as gluten-free.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Pazham Payasam| Mixed Fruit Kheer

Pazham Payasam is a delightful twist to the regular kheer varieties we make. It is a more decadent version of kheer, with the unique flavour of mixed fruits. You can add whatever fruits are in season to this kheer – every time you make it, it tastes different!

I had been trying out Pazham Payasam for the blog for some time, and recently nailed the recipe after a few trials. It turned out perfectly the last time I made it, and was such a huge hit with the family! In fact, we offered this Pazham Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer to our kutti Krishna too, as prasadam, this Janmashtami. In today’s blog post, I am going to share with you all how I made it. Do try it out this recipe this festive season – I would love to hear how you liked it.

Pazham Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer

How to make Pazham Payasam

Pazham Payasam is not a very difficult thing to make, but it does need a bit of patience. As in the case of all payasams, milk is cooked till it reduces and thickens. It is sweetened with sugar, and a paste made of soaked and ground cashewnuts is added to make it thicker and richer.

The milk mixture is allowed to cool down completely (or chilled in the refrigerator, if you so prefer). It is served with chopped fruits of your choice mixed in.

I did not use too many ingredients in my Pazham Payasam, preferring to keep it simple. I flavoured it using a wee bit of cardamom powder, and used three basic fruits only. It tasted beautiful as is, but if you want to make it more exotic and rich, I have shared some notes in the ‘Tips & Tricks’ section.

Pazham Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer recipe

Here is how I made it.

Ingredients (serves 4 -5):

1. 1 litre full-cream milk

2. 1/4 cup sugar or as per taste

3. 12-15 cashewnuts

4. 2 pinches of cardamom powder

5. 1/2 of a medium-sized apple

6. 1 small banana

7. 1/2 of a medium-sized pomegranate

Method:

Top left: Step 1, Top centre and right: Step 2, Bottom left and centre: Step 3, Bottom right: Step 4

1. Soak the cashewnuts in some boiling hot water for about 2 hours. When they are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

2. Take the soaked and drained cashewnuts in a small mixer jar. Add in about 1/4 cup milk. Grind together to a smooth paste.

3. Take the rest of the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame. Allow the milk to get heated up and then come to a boil. Reduce the flame to low-medium at this stage.

4. Add in the sugar. Mix well. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the milk. Keeping the flame at low-medium, cook for 4-5 minutes or till the milk has started to thicken. Stir intermittently. Scrape down the cream that forms on the sides of the pan, back into the milk.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom right and left: Steps 7 and 8

5. Add the cashewnut paste to the pan at this stage, constantly stirring.

6. Let the mixture cook on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes more or till it has thickened nicely. You will need to stir a little more frequently now. Continue to scrape down the cream forming on the sides of the pan back into the milk. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened up well but not overly so. Remember that it will thicken up more as it cools.

7. Mix in the cardamom powder once the gas is switched off. Allow the mixture to cool down completely. If you want, you can chill the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours (after it has fully cooled down).

8. Mix the fruits into the mixture just before serving. Peel the banana and chop into small cubes. Chop the apple into small cubes too. Separate the pomegranate arils. Add the readied fruit to the milk mixture. Your Chettinad Pazha Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer is ready to serve – serve it immediately.

Other Payasam recipes on the blog

I have shared several payasam varieties on the blog so far. You might be interested in checking out the recipes.

Tips & Tricks

1. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to make this kheer.

2. The kheer needs to be cooked mostly on a low-medium flame, to avoid burning and for a nicer flavour. Stir more frequently after the cashewnut paste is added in, as it tends to settle at the bottom of the pan.

3. Do stir constantly while adding in the cashewnut paste. Otherwise, the paste might not be evenly distributed into the milk.

4. For best results, use only full-fat milk to make the Pazham Payasam. I have used full-cream milk from Nandini here.

5. Adjust the amount of sugar you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

6. I have used only cashewnut paste to thicken the payasam here, and it worked beautifully. You can even use a mix of cashewnuts and almonds. If you are using almonds, make sure you remove the skin after soaking, before grinding them.

7. You can use any fruit of your choice in the payasam. Seedless grapes, orange segments and mango make for wonderful additions. I prefer using crisp Fuji apples and Robusta bananas in the payasam. Glace cherries would also go very well in this dessert.

8. Make sure you add the fruit only after the milk mixture has cooled down completely.

9. This Pazham Payasam tastes best when chilled. Place it in the refrigerator to chill only after it has completely cooled down. Get it out of the fridge a little while before you serve it, and add in the fruits.

10. You may add a few strands of saffron to the milk while it is cooking. Here, I haven’t.

11. If the milk gets too thick, adjust the consistency using a little boiled and cooled milk. If you feel the payasam is lacking in sweetness at a later stage, add in some sugar dissolved completely in warm milk.

12. Do not let the payasam sit for too long after adding the fruits. The fruits should be added just before serving. In case you are using citrus fruits, it can cause the payasam to become bitter if left in for too long.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!