The post for today is Aval Payasam. Aval payasam being primarliy made with poha, milk and sugar is also often referred to, as poha kheer or poha payasam. For those familiar with the Tamil language of south India might also identify it as atukula payasam. This is because poha (falttened rice) is traditionally known as atukula in Tamil language. Here is a brief overview of the importance of today’s recipe and its relevance with the hindu mythology.
Janmashtami / Krishnajayanthi is a festival for Lord Krishna, which falls between mid August to mid September of the Gregorian Calender.
In order to prevent the dreaded Kamsan(Krishna’s maternal uncle) from killing Krishna, Vasudeva (Krishna’s father) placed him in a basket on the river and sent him to his foster home for safety.The ritual is to fast the previous day and at midnight, the deity of the infant Krishna is placed in a decorated Mantapa or cradle and worshipped. The fast is completed after a special prayer and offerings. Krishna loves aval (poha/ flattened rice flakes), butter and fruits (esp Nava pazham or Jambolan) and Bhakshanam (snacks & sweets in Tamil) like appam, murukku, seedai. The celebrations is done late in the evening after the Moon rises. Footprints of infant Krishna is drawn with rice flour batter from the front of the house to the pooja room. There is a belief that the god enters the devotee’s home, blesses them and eats your offerings.
Kuselan (Mythological friend of Krishna) was very poor and Krishna was very rich. When he didnt have enough money to run his family, he decided to visit Krishna and seek some help. He didnt have anything to take with him to give Krishna. They had little bag of Aval/poha in their house and Kuselan’s wife suggested to give it when he visited Krishna and it seems Krishna ate it with all the happiness and love.
- Place the aval/poha in a colander and run it through tap water. Do it real quickly, if the poha absorbs too much water, they become soggy. Remove from the colander and place it over a kitchen towl/ tissue.
- Heat 2 tsp ghee in a kadai. Once they get heated up, saute the cleaned aval/poha. Cook till they become dry and flaky.
- Increase the heat to high, throw in 3 cups of water and cardamon powder and bring to boil. Now turn to medium heat and cook covered for 15min till the poha/aval are well cooked. Test with a spoon and they should be soft now.
- Pour in the 2 cups of milk and cook on low flame for 20min. Constant stirring is required. Add the sugar and give it a complete stir. Allow the milk to thicken.
- In a separate kadai, heat the remaining ghee and fry the cashewnuts. Add this to the boiling payasam. Check for sugar and adjust it to your need. Garnish with the soaked saffron.
- Yummy hot payasam is ready to serve.