Vella Payaru|Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal

Vella Payaru refers to a sweet dish made using whole moong beans, a heritage Tamilnadu preparation. It tastes absolutely beautiful, garnished with fresh coconut, with a hint of cardamom to it. This is my mother-in-law’s specialty – she makes it wonderfully delicious. She has been staying with us for some time, and I have been taking the opportunity to learn some traditional dishes from her.

A bit more about Vella Payaru

There are several types of sundal prepared in South India, for various festive occasions. ‘Sundal‘ is usually a legume like chickpeas (kabuli chana), black-eyed peas (karamani) and whole moong beans (payaru), cooked dry, and can be either savoury or sweet. Check out this Karuppu Mocchai Sundal I made last Navratri, using purple hyacinth beans! This Vella Payaru is a sundal of the sweet type, also called Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal.

This sundal uses jaggery (‘vellam‘ in Tamil), and there is absolutely no oil or ghee that goes in. This Vella Payaru is, therefore, a relatively healthier sweet treat, full of wholesome ingredients. It is not very difficult to put together either. Once the ingredients are ready, it takes just a few minutes.

Sundal are most commonly made as an offering during Navratri and Ganesh Chaturthi. This is much loved by everyone at home, and mother-in-law makes it whenever we visit her. Ganesh Chaturthi is just around the corner, and I just couldn’t miss this chance of watching her make it and noting down the recipe with exact measurements.

How to make Vella Payaru or Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal

Here is how you go about it.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  1. 1 cup whole green moong
  2. 1-1/4 cup jaggery powder
  3. 2 pinches of cardamom powder
  4. 1/4 cup grated fresh coconut

Method:

1. Soak the green moong in enough water for at least 3-4 hours. Then, drain out all the water.

2. Take the drained moong beans in a wide vessel. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the beans fully. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker and allow 3 whistles on high flame. The beans should be cooked through, but not overly mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Take 1 cup water in a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the jaggery. Keep on high flame. Allow the jaggery to get completely dissolved in the water. Let the jaggery water come to a rolling boil.

4. At this stage, lower the flame to medium. Add the cooked moong beans to the jaggery water in the other pan. Mix well.

5. Continue to cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the water dries up and the mixture thickens up. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas when the mixture has considerably thickened, but is still quite runny. It thickens up further with time.

6. Now, mix in the cardamom powder and fresh grated coconut. Your Vella Payaru is ready. Serve it hot, warm or at room temperature.

Is this dish gluten-free and vegan?

Absolutely! The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those leading a plant-based lifestyle. It is completely gluten-free, too.

#MeethePal at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am a part of. The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a bunch of passionate food bloggers, who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. I chose to share this Vella Payaru or Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal recipe for the theme.

The theme this Monday is #MeethePal, suggested by Sujata ji of Batter Up With Sujata. Sujata ji has a huge sweet tooth (just like me), and her blog is a treasure trove of lovely dessert recipes. She prepared delectable Caramel Custard for today’s theme. You should definitely check out her amazing collection of Bengali sweets – she has some unique ones like Chilli Rasgulla and Watermelon Rasgulla!

Tips & Tricks

1. Forgot to soak the moong beans? No worries. You can just pressure cook them a little longer – say 6 or 7 whistles – before adding them to the jaggery water.

2. Don’t overcook the moong beans. They should be just cooked through, but not overly mushy.

3. Adjust the quantity of jaggery as per personal taste preferences.

4. Don’t let the jaggery syrup get too thick, otherwise the Vella Payaru will get too hard and chewy. The jaggery just needs to get dissolved in the water. You need it to attain a ‘thread’ consistency.

5. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, for best results.

6. Adjust the quantity of fresh coconut as per personal taste preferences.

7. You can add a bit of dry ginger powder and a few slivers of coconut, if you prefer. Here, we haven’t.

8. After adding the cooked moong beans to the pan, cook them on medium flame. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

9. Black-eyed beans (karamani) also works well in this recipe, in place of the green moong beans.

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

Dhania Panchajeeri Recipe| Dhania Panjeeri For Janmashtami

Dhania Panjeeri – Panchajeeri in Gujarati – is one of the offerings commonly prepared in North India, on the occasion of Janmashtami. Growing up in Ahmedabad, Janmashtami (the birthday of God Krishna) used to be a grand occasion, celebrated with great pomp and gusto. I remember visiting the temple near our place at midnight, on Janmashtami eve, and getting a chance to swing Baby Krishna who would be sleeping in a beautifully decorated cradle. This would be followed by an offering of Dhania Panchajeeri, which I would absolutely adore. Till date, it is this dish that I can associate the most with Janmashtami, and I’m here today to share the recipe for the same.

What goes into Dhania Panchajeeri?

Dhania Panchajeeri, also called Dhania Panjeeri or Dhaniya Prasad, is a mildly sweet dish with hints of spice in it. It contains dhaniya or whole coriander seeds as well as dry ginger powder, both of which aren’t very common ingredients in sweet dishes. It is very nutritious, with the addition of healthy ingredients like nuts and makhana (foxnuts).

There is another type of Panchajeeri made in Gujarat and other parts of North India, which uses wheat flour. Some versions also use edible gum or gond. However, this Dhaniya Panchajeeri includes neither wheat flour nor edible gum.

I learnt this Dhania Panchajeeri recipe from a Gujarati friend of mine years ago, and have always been making it this way. It is super easy to prepare, and can be readied in just a few minutes if you have all the ingredients ready.

How to make Dhania Panchajeeri

Here is how I go about it.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):

  1. 1 teaspoon ghee
  2. 1/4 cup whole coriander seeds (dhania)
  3. 1/2 cup foxnuts (makhana)
  4. 1/2 cup dry coconut powder
  5. 1 tablespoon almonds
  6. 1 tablespoon cashewnuts
  7. A little less than 1/2 cup sugar
  8. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger powder

Method:

1. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the coriander seeds, cashewnuts, almonds and foxnuts , and turn the flame down to medium. Roast on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or till the coriander seeds begin to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

2. Now, add in the dry coconut powder. Turn the flame down to the lowest. Roast the ingredients for a few seconds. Switch off gas.

3. Immediately transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate. Allow to cool down fully.

4. When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a mixer jar. Add in the sugar. Pulse a few times, till you get a powder that is just slightly coarse. Stop at intervals to open the mixer jar and mix up the ingredients. When done, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight box.

Is this Dhania Panchajeeri vegan and gluten-free?

This recipe is completely vegetarian, but NOT vegan because of the addition of ghee. You can substitute the ghee with coconut oil to make it vegan or plant-based.

This is a completely gluten-free preparation.

Tips & Tricks

1. Make sure the ingredients do not burn while roasting. This might alter the taste of the Dhania Panchajeeri.

2. I have used Khandsari sugar here, in place of the regular refined sugar that is usually used. You can use refined sugar too.

3. Different families have different versions of Panchajeeri – some add in rose petals or banana slices, while some use Khus Khus (poppy seeds) or Char Magaz seeds (a mix of watermelon, musk melon, cucumber and pumpkin seeds). I prefer keeping it simple and basic, the way I have stated above.

4. Make sure the roasted ingredients have fully cooled down, before grinding.

5. You can keep the texture of the Dhania Panchajeeri as coarse or fine as you prefer. I prefer keeping it mostly fine, just slightly coarse.

6. The Dhania Panchajeeri can be stored refrigerated for at least 20-30 days.

7. Use a heavy-bottomed pan only for roasting.

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

Oat Milk Payasam| Vegan Kheer With Oat Milk

Oat Milk Payasam is an entirely vegan preparation, a sweet treat perfectly suited to those leading a plant-based lifestyle. It is a kheer made using vegan oat milk as opposed to the dairy milk used in a regular payasam. In case you are wondering, this Oat Milk Payasam tastes absolutely delicious, creamy and perfect!

A bit about the oat milk I used in this payasam

There are several types of plant-based milk – like cashew milk, almond milk and soya milk, to name a few. Oat milk refers to milk derived from oats and, therefore, plant-based. This was my first time using a vegan milk – mylk, rather – and I quite liked it.

Urban Platter has recently launched OatWow, a range of oat milk, in various flavours. The brand sent a few flavours of the milk for me to try out – Classic, Vanilla and Rich Cocoa. The Classic is what I have used here. It has a mildly sweet, oat-y flavour to it, which I loved. The milk looks thin at first glance, but thickens up nicely on heating, thus making it a great choice for things like pasta sauce, custard and payasam. They are priced at INR 300 per litre (expensive, if you ask me), and are available for sale on Amazon and the Urban Platter website.

What goes into this vegan kheer?

There’s the oat milk, of course. I have used flattened rice aka beaten rice or aval too, along with regular refined sugar. I have also used some raisins, cashewnuts and almonds to make the kheer richer.

I wanted to make the kheer completely vegan and, hence, have used coconut oil to fry the nuts instead of the usual ghee. I love the aroma that the coconut oil imparted to the kheer!

Please note that not all oat milk is certified gluten-free. The label on this one suggests there might be ‘traces of naturally occurring gluten found in oats’.

A-Z Recipe Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the A-Z Recipe Challenge. This Challenge was initiated by Vidya, food blogger at Masalachilli, and Jolly, author of the recipe blog Homemade Recipes.

For the challenge, the members share recipes prepared using key ingredients in alphabetical order, one alphabet and one ingredient per month. The alphabet for this month is O, and I chose to cook with ‘oat milk’ for the same.

Check out the Oats Dosa that Vidya made for the challenge. Also, while on the subject of kheer, check out the beautiful Mango Kheer that Jolly has made using full-fat milk.

How to make Oat Milk Payasam

Here’s how I went about it.
Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  2. 1/4 cup beaten rice (aval or poha)
  3. 1 litre oat milk, unsweetened and unflavoured
  4. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 8-10 cashewnuts
  6. 8-10 almonds
  7. 8-10 raisins
  8. 2 pinches of cardamom powder

Method:

1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the beaten rice. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute on medium flame for a minute or so, or till the beaten rice gets crisp. Ensure that it doesn’t burn.

2. Now, add the oat milk to the pan. Mix well. Increase the heat to high.

3. Allow the milk to come to a boil, then reduce flame to medium. Add in the sugar at this stage and mix well.

4. Continue to cook on medium flame for 10-12 minutes or till the mixture starts thickening. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas when the mixture has considerably thickened, but is still quite runny. It thickens further in some time.

5. Mix in the cardamom powder.

6. Now, chop up the cashewnuts and almonds roughly. In a small pan, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil. Reduce heat to medium, and add in the raisins and the chopped cashewnuts and almonds. Fry till the raisins plump up and the nuts start browning. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Pour this over the milk mixture. Your Oat Milk Payasam is ready – serve it hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Tips & Tricks

1. Almond milk, cashew milk, soya milk are some other varieties of plant-based milk that can be used in place of the oat milk I have used here. However, I have never tried those, and am in no position to comment on them.

2. Increase or decrease the amount of sugar you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

3. Jaggery or cane sugar or a similar vegan sweetener can be used in this payasam. I have used regular white sugar here.

4. Make sure the nuts and raisins do not burn while frying them.

5. Stop cooking the payasam when it has thickened considerably, but is still quite runny. It thickens up quite a bit more with time.

6. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook this Oat Milk Payasam.

7. Vanilla or rose essence can be used to flavour the payasam, instead of the cardamom powder I have used here.

8. My opinions about the products are completely honest, based upon my personal experience with them. The views expressed herein are not influenced by anything or anyone.

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

Mixed Fruit Cream With Condensed Milk

If you are looking for a simple but delectable dessert you can make this festive season, you should check out this Mixed Fruit Cream. This is a no-cook recipe that can be put together in minutes. Let me tell you, it tastes sinfully creamy and absolutely scrumptious!

Mixed Fruit Cream – decadent and delicious!

What goes into this Mixed Fruit Cream?

This dessert is made using store-bought sweetened condensed milk and fresh cream. You can use any brand you prefer. I usually use Amul. I also use a bit of vanilla essence to add flavour to the Fruit Cream.

I prefer using non-watery mixed fruits like bananas, apples, grapes, pomegranate arils and pear, in this dish. However, you can use any fruits of your preference.

Thanks to the use of condensed milk and fresh cream, this is NOT a vegan dessert. Also, I would like to mention that this is a rather heavy dessert, not very healthy (as delectable as it is!), and I recommend consuming it only occasionally.

This is different from the Mixed Fruit Cream recipe I had posted a while ago. That one used mascarpone cream, while this recipe doesn’t.

#FruityBites at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I am part of a group of enthusiastic food bloggers, called the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, the group members share recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

This Monday, Archana ji of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen chose the theme – #FruityBites. She suggested we use fresh fruit to make some kind of dessert, and I chose to share this easy-peasy Mixed Fruit Cream recipe.

Speaking of fruit-based desserts, I’m fascinated by the look of Archana ji‘s Mango Fool and Plum And Apple Cobbler. They’re definitely on my never-ending list of recipes to try out! 🙂 While you are at it, you should also check out the recipes for Sitaphal Basundi, Fruit Custard and Thai Sticky Rice With Mango on my blog.

Mixed Fruit Cream recipe

This is how I go about it.
Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 250 ml fresh cream
  2. 200 ml sweetened condensed milk
  3. 4-5 drops of vanilla essence
  4. 1 big Robusta banana
  5. 1 big apple
  6. Arils from 1 large pomegranate

Method:

1. Take the fresh cream in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add in the condensed milk and vanilla essence.

3. Whisk gently until all the ingredients are well combined. Taste and add more condensed milk or fresh cream, if required.

4. Now, refrigerate the mixture, covered, for about two hours or till it is chilled.

5. When you are ready to serve the Mixed Fruit Cream, chop the fruits fresh. Remove the banana peel and slice it. Separate the pomegranate arils and chop the apple into bite-sized pieces.

6. Get the chilled cream mixture out of the refrigerator, and add in the prepared fruits. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. You can adjust the quantity of fresh cream and condensed milk, as per personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.

2. Like I was saying earlier, you can use any fruits of your preference. I prefer using non-watery fruits only – usually apple, banana, pear, pomegranate and grapes.

3. Make sure you mix in the fruit just before serving the dessert. If you add in the fruits earlier, they tend to get too cold, making the dessert a bit uncomfortable to eat. Also, some fruits might cause the cream to get bitter. To add in the fruits just before serving is a better and safer bet.

4. Any leftover cream mixture can be refrigerated and used within 2 days. Again, it is best to mix in chopped fruits to this just before serving.

5. 2-3 hours of chilling in the refrigerator is good.

6. I have used a regular hand-held whisk (not electric), to mix together the ingredients.

7. The vanilla essence can be substituted with rose essence.

8. I prefer using only Robusta bananas in this dessert. Any other type of banana doesn’t work for me. Similarly, I prefer using a crispy variety of apple like Washington or Fuji. If using grapes, make sure you use a seedless variety that isn’t too sour.

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

Semiya Payasam| Vermicelli Kheer

The festival season is in full swing in India now, with one occasion after the other lined up. Now is the time to gorge on some brilliant food, sweets included. How about making some Semiya Payasam or vermicelli kheer this season?

What is Semiya Payasam?

Kheer in Hindi, Payasam in Tamil, refers to a dessert made using milk. Milk is sweetened, then reduced and thickened till it becomes creamy and delicious. There can be various additions to kheer, such as rice, vermicelli, beaten rice, dried fruits and nuts. ‘Semiya Payasam‘ is the Tamil term for kheer made using vermicelli.

It is a really simple thing to make. If you have all the ingredients handy, this dessert can be put together within minutes. This has become my go-to thing whenever I need to make a sweet dish in a jiffy. In fact, this Semiya Payasam was what I made for Avani Avittam or Rakshabandhan last week.

What goes into my Semiya Payasam?

I usually use vermicelli from the Bambino brand to make this payasam. It is said to be made using wheat rava, thus healthier than most other brands. I’m not sure about this, but Bambino vermicelli does work brilliantly in this dish – they add a lovely texture to the payasam, without losing their shape.

I use full-fat milk from Nandini, and regular refined sugar. I have had several unsuccessful attempts at making this payasam with jaggery, and have decided to stick to refined sugar only.

I don’t load the payasam with ghee, dry fruits or nuts, but use just enough to keep it fragrant and delicious. The amount of vermicelli I use is also limited, so it doesn’t get too overwhelming and the payasam has a liquid-y consistency, the way we like it at home.

I also like flavouring this Semiya Payasam with a hint of rose essence, which can be avoided if you don’t prefer it. That said, it does add a lovely dimension to the sweet treat for sure.

The ingredients used make this Semiya Payasam a completely vegetarian preparation, but NOT vegan (plant-based) or gluten-free.

Semiya Payasam recipe

Here is how I go about making it.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/2 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon of ghee
  2. 2 tablespoons roasted vermicelli
  3. 1 litre full-fat milk
  4. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 4-5 drops of rose essence (optional)
  6. 5-6 cashewnuts
  7. 5-6 almonds
  8. 10 raisins

Method:

1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan.

2. Add in the roasted vermicelli. Saute for a minute on high flame.

3. Now, add the milk to the pan. Mix well. Cook on high flame till the milk comes to a boil.

Top left: Step 1, Top right and bottom left: Step 2, Bottom right: Step 3

4. At this stage, lower the flame to medium. Add in the sugar. Mix well.

5. Cook on medium flame for 10-12 minutes or till the milk starts thickening. Stir intermittently. Scrape down the cream that forms on the sides of the pan, back into the milk.

6. In the meantime, chop the cashewnuts and almonds roughly. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee in a small pan, and add in the chopped cashewnuts and almonds, along with the raisins. Turn flame down to medium. Allow the raisins to plump up and the nuts to start browning. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

7. Add the fried cashewnuts, almonds and raisins into the milk cooking in the other pan. Allow everything to cook together on medium flame till the mixture reaches a thick but still runny consistency. It will thicken up further upon cooling. Switch off gas at this stage.

8. Mix in the rose essence, if using. Your Semiya Payasam is ready. You can serve it hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal taste preferences.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Centre left: Scraping down the cream forming on the sides of the pan, Centre right: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

Tips & Tricks

1. Use full-fat milk, for best results. I have used Nandini full-cream milk here.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use, as per personal taste preferences.

3. Like I said earlier, I have used Bambino roasted vermicelli here. You can use any type of vermicelli you prefer.

4. Some people cook the vermicelli in a little water before adding milk to the pan, but I do not do that. The vermicelli gets cooked in the milk itself.

5. I use only 2 tablespoons of vermicelli for 1 litre of milk. The vermicelli swells up quite a bit upon cooking and thickens up the payasam. These measurements work perfectly for us – they yield a rich and creamy payasam that is neither too watery nor too thick. The amount of vermicelli is just right and not overwhelming.

6. You may use more ghee in making the Semiya Payasam, if you so prefer. The above quantities work perfectly for us. Similarly, you may use more dried fruits and nuts if you so prefer.

7. Using the rose essence is purely optional. You can definitely skip it if you are not comfortable using it, or use cardamom powder instead.

8. Make sure the raisins and nuts do not burn while frying them.

11. Remember to cook the payasam in a heavy-bottomed pan only, on medium flame.

12. Stop cooking the payasam when it has thickened considerably, but is still quite runny. It will thicken up some more with time.

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