No matter how many generations go by and how far they live away from their homeland, there’s one festival that every Keralite keep close to their heart – Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala, which is celebrated across the state of Kerala irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
The story behind Onam dates back to the 12th century when King Mahabali ruled the state. It is believed that during his rule all people lived in harmony. People started celebrating Onam to remember the extraordinary days of this glorious king.
Apart from snake boat races and flower carpets, a sumptuous Onam sadya (feast) is an integral part of Onam celebrations. Whether you are hosting a grand sadya, or whipping up a simple feast for your family, the celebrations will be incomplete without the traditional dessert, payasam or pudding.
Aval Payasam (Rice Flakes Pudding) is one of the traditional payasams associated with Onam. It’s a simple and easy to make pudding loaded with rice flakes, milk and sugar, and spiced with cardamom.
I’ve used brown rice flakes in this recipe, but the white flakes are great too. Just go with your favorite. To add sweetness to the payasam, you have two options. Regular white sugar and jaggery. If you want to know how to melt jaggery, I’ve a comprehensive guide with pictures right here. Check it out!
Happy Onam to all!
To fry the raisins, heat ghee in a frying pan over medium heat. Add raisins. Fry until plump. Drain on absorbent towel. (If you are using cashew nuts, add in cashew nuts and fry until golden). Set aside.
Add rice flakes (aval/ poha) to the same pan. You can add more ghee if you want. Fry until they get a golden color. Remember to stir continuously while frying. Set aside.
Boil milk in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add roasted rice flakes. Boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
When payasam starts to thicken, add sugar. (If you are using jaggery, add it now). Boil until sugar dissolves completely.
You have to add the ground cardamom just before you remove payasam from heat. You can also add in half of the fried raisins (and cashew nuts if using) at this stage. Now let it heat through. Remove from heat. Garnish with the remaining raisins (and cashew nuts if using).
- 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 tbsp raisins (or sultanas)
- 2 cups white or brown rice flakes (I used brown)
- 5 cups milk
- ¼ - ¾ cup white sugar (depending on the sweetness you want)
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- Heat ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add raisins. Saute, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until they become plump. Drain on an absorbent towel. Set aside.
- Add rice flakes to the same pan. Saute, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside.
- Pour milk into a large heavy bottomed pan. Place it over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Add rice flakes. Bring to the boil again. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the flakes are cooked and the pudding starts to thicken.
- Add sugar depending on the level of sweetness you want. (I added ½ cup sugar). Simmer for another 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
- Before removing the payasam from heat, stir in ground cardamom and half of fried raisins (and cashew nuts if using). Allow to heat through. Remove from heat.
- Pour payasam into serving glasses. Garnish with fried raisins (and cashew nuts if using.) Serve warm or cold.
To add sweetness to the payasam, you can either use white sugar or jaggery. If you are adding jaggery, melting it before adding to the payasam is highly recommended.
Since I wanted to keep this payasam nut free, I didin’t add any cashews to it. But you could fry them separately, and then add it to the payasam along with the raisins. Keep some for garnishing as well.
To make this payasam healthier, use oil instead of ghee. You can also use skim milk in this recipe.