Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paal Payasam/Rice Kheer

Creamy, gooey and sweet. Served warm or cold, I prefer the latter, this is a very comforting, very simple and elegant dessert that is apt for any kind of celebration. And here I have not one but three reasons to be happy and to celebrate.
1. Navaratri, Dasara
2. Me getting back to my blog after nearly 2 years
3. Before I get to the third reason... Feel free to skip my rant and go directly to the Recipe OR, hold the thought, and go through the write-up below:

I start sulking...I work myself up to a frenzy... I get all hands and feet turn heartbeat goes up by a couple of beats per minute. From the second I come to know that I have to do it, a strange fear takes over me. My mind is in a turmoil. Though I am going about my routine, thoughts of it are running in the background of my mind. I go to google maps and check and re-check the directions and address of my destination. I try to put up a brave front and not let my hubby know about it...but I can't fool him. He knows....and he plays along.

What am I talking about?? I'll tell you, but please try not to laugh. I am talking about... DRIVING, alone, to a place I've never driven before. Let me walk you through a typical conversation that occurs between me and Sri(my hubby):

Me : Why can't you drop us off and then get to work?
Sri : I need to be at work REALLY early.
Me : You are just saying that. You just want me to drive.
Sri(with a smirk on his face): If that's what you want to think, suit yourself.
Me(pleading now): But I've never driven there before...
Sri(trying to reason): We've been there umpteen number of times. You'll know once you drive.
Me(back at square one): Wouldn't it be simpler if you just dropped us off...

I can shamelessly come up with reasons for not driving depending on the situation:
"I can't drive while I'm in a saree" or
"Oh! I'm not wearing my contact lenses" or
"I find it difficult do drive when it is dark" or
"She(my daughter) is hungry. I better sit back with her and give her something to eat" etc.,
Or sometimes, I just hurry to the car and secure myself in the passenger seat before Sri even gets to the car. Not that he makes me drive a lot and when he does, it is just that he wants me to learn. I get that, but my paranoia makes me fail to see reason.

I just HATE driving... There, I've made it official, in writing. Oh, no.. let me rephrase it. I HATE DRIVING CARS. I don't mind two wheelers. In fact I love riding a two wheeler. Between high school and through five years of being a working woman, I have been the proud owner of a bicycle, a Hero Puch, a Kinetic Honda(which got stolen) and a Honda Activa. It came to me most naturally. I never once gave it a thought. I also have credits of having driven my uncle's Yamaha RX 100, my cousin's Hero Honda and my collegue's TVS Victor - all of which are considered to be for "Guys" only.

There is something about a car that just doesn't work for me. I feel I'm not in control. It might all be in my mind, but that's how it is. Being a mom of two kids and living in the USA, it is but inevitable that I drive. I have my comfort zone, a radius of about 10-12 miles. I can drive the kids to their activities, Sri's office, Grocery stores, School and a couple of friends' places. Also, I can drive to any new/old, near/far destination, if Sri is in the car too. That's all. Any exceptions and all the symptoms that I described earlier, start to kick in.

Now, going back to my 3 reasons to celebrate... have you guessed it yet?? Well, here it is:

3. I did DRIVE, all by myself to a new place and I did not use the GPS either.

My friend G invited me and the kids to her place for lunch last thursday, as the kids had no school due to teachers' workshop. The kids could play together and we could catch up. It was too tempting a plan to pass up.(She had promised yummy Keralean fare too). I asked Sri if he could work from home until 11, drop us off at her place, and then get to work and pick us up on the way back. And yes, I am ready to take my chances and make such absurd demands, if it might take me away from having to drive. Obviously Sri refused. I don't know what made me do it, but boy, am I glad I did it :-). I wrote down the directions from google maps (to and fro both), stuck the paper onto the steering wheel and set off! (I don't trust the GPS cos it "dings" when I am AT the turn/exit instead of a little earlier). I did miss an exit, but realised it immediately and promptly got back on track and made it to her place in one piece!! I was a HERO in my eyes and in my son's eyes too :-). We had a fun afternoon with yummy food, lotsa chatting, laughing, kids playing and a small walk in the foggy backyard.

When I came home I felt sooo elated! I was all smiles when I said "I did it!!", Sri had that "I told you so... I always knew you can do it" kinda look. I am definitely happy that I could do it, but that doesn't mean in any way that I've conquered my fear. It is but one baby step.

G had made yummy Paal Payasam for dessert. My son LOVED it a lot. It had been ages since I'd made it. So, I decided to make it and that's when it came to my mind that I should blog about my experience. Here's the recipe, go ahead try it and celebrate your joys!!

Ingredients :

5 cups Milk (Whole milk would be best)
1/2 cup Basmati Rice
1 cup Sugar
3-4 Cardamoms, powdered
1 tbsp each, Cashewnuts and Raisins(Roasted in Ghee) - Optional
A pinch of Saffron - Optional

Method :

1. Thoroughly wash the Basmati Rice and set aside.
2. Boil 2 cups of milk in a pressure cooker. Once the milk comes to a boil add the washed rice. Close the cooker lid with the weight on and cook on a very low flame(at mark 2-3 on the small burner) for 30 minutes.
3. Switch off the heat after 30 minutes and allow the cooker to cool. Once all the steam has escaped, open it. The milk would have cooked down and turned pink by now.Trust me, it does turn pink. I didn't believe it until I saw it!
4. Add the sugar(adjust to taste) and mix well. Add the remaining milk and bring it to a boil.
5. Close the cooker again with weight on cook for another 15 minutes in low flame.
6. Open the cooker once it has cooled down and mix in the nuts, raisins and saffron(if using) and cardamom and mix well.
7. Serve warm or cold.

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