I have very fond memories of this payasam. The neighborhood where I grew up was very diverse. There were families from all over India. There was one family from Kerala. Every Onam three bowls of delicacies would be hand delivered to our house. The one I waited for most was this payasam. It is Kerala tradition to make it for Onam.
Kerala is small state on the south western coast of India. It has a very literate population as compared to a lot of other states. Onam is a festival celebrated only in Kerala. It is celebrated to honor the life of Mahabali from the story behind the Vamana avatar of the Dashavatar.
I have not had this payasam for a very very long time though I got the recipe from a friend a while back. As it was cooking the kitchen was engulfed in this lovely aroma. What took me by surprise was how that aroma took me back to my childhood. I did not realize I had such a strong association with it. I am so glad I made this payasam. It just made me happy.
You will need
3.5 oz mung dal
5 oz jaggery
3/4 cup thick coconut milk
1 cup light coconut milk
3 tbsp. ghee, divided
a few cashews and raisins
If you are not using fresh coconut you can use a can of coconut milk. I used Goya light coconut milk. Dilute the milk by half to produce the light milk. Use at full strength for the thick milk. Dry roast the mung dal in a pan until it is crispy and turns darker in color.
Transfer to a pressure cooker and cook with 1 cup water. The dal should be cooked but should not be mushy. While the dal cooks add jaggery and a cup of water to a bowl. Let the jaggery dissolve completely in the water. In 1 tbsp. of oil fry the cashews and the raisins. Drain on a paper towel and keep aside.
Once the dal is cooked transfer it back to the pan and add to it 2 tbsp. ghee, the jaggery solution and the light milk. Bring it to a boil. Let it simmer stirring occasionally until the quantity is reduced by half.
Now add the thick milk and let it assimilate completely in the solution.
Let the mixture cook on low heat for another 5-8 minutes. Stir infrequently.
Turn off heat. Add the cashews and raisins and serve.