Saturday, May 17, 2014

Papaya Payasam (Kheer)

A few weeks ago, I chanced upon a cookery show on Asianet (a Malayalam channel) and the host was starting to make papaya payasam. Until then, I had not heard the words papaya and payasam together so I was intrigued.

The process seemed simple enough and I decided to try it. But I didn’t make it for a few weeks…even though there was a papaya sitting on my counter, waiting to be cut. The thing is, if I make anything sweet, and my husband doesn’t care for it much, I end up having the leftovers. To avoid that, I waited for an opportune moment and finally made it when a cousin visited us for dinner.

The payasam was an absolute hit and received a thumbs-up from both the tasters. My cousin had a hard time figuring out what the payasam was made of, he guessed and guessed and finally gave up!!!
Cooked papaya – 1 ¼ cups (approx.)

Melted jaggery – ¾ -1 cup (to taste)

Coconut milk – 1-1 ¼ cups

Cardamom powder – a pinch

Ghee – 2 tsps

Raisins and almonds/cashews for garnish

Water for cooking the papaya and melting jaggery


Deseed and dice a ripe papaya into chunks. Place the papaya in a small saucepan, pour enough water to submerge the pieces, cover and cook until mushy. At this point, you can either transfer the cooked pulp to a blender to make a smooth paste or whisk it to a slightly lumpy consistency. I thought it would be better to leave some lumps, so I did not blend it. In the same saucepan, melt jaggery with a little bit of water. Once it has completely melted, add the papaya pulp and mix well. Allow it to heat through, on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Slowly add the coconut milk and mix well. Technically, the recipe calls for the first, second and third milks extracted from a coconut. I had just one kind…the kind that comes from a can :-). Reduce the heat to low and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes more. Add the cardamom powder.

*If you are using freshly extracted coconut milk, pour the third (most diluted) version first, then the second and finally the first. The payasam should not be cooked too long after the addition of the thickest milk.

Heat the ghee in a small pan placed on low heat. Add the nuts first. As they start toasting, add the raisins and sauté for a couple of minutes. Once they plump up, remove and pour onto the payasam. Serve warm or cold, tastes divine either way. Bon Appétit. 
Creamy and rich payasam to satiate any serious sweettooth.

Note: *To extract fresh coconut milk, you’ll need lots of grated coconut, hot water, regular water, and a blender/mixie. Pour a little hot water onto the coconut and squeeze away. The thick white extract you get is the first milk. Now put the coconut into a blender jar, add some more water and grind until it’s a fine paste. Add some more water and squeeze out the extract. This is the second milk. Do this once more and you have the third milk.