Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Almond Kheer for the Gods
As a part of Navratri celebration, we make a sweet pudding and a savory snack mix everyday to serve our guests. One important part of all our celebrations is sweet milk puddings called payasam or kheer. Although there are more than a dozen varieties of payasam, almond kheer is very special. Making it is simple but it remains a delicacy in India due to the very high price of almonds. Besides, a generous pinch of the most expensive spice, saffron is also added, giving it is beautiful pale yellow color. Whenever we go to India, one usual request from relatives is to get them a huge packet of almonds (the one sold at Wholesale warehouses). This is an expensive dish to make but it is the best way to savor the delicate taste of almonds and saffron.
1 litre or a very generous 4 cups of milk (low-fat also works)
3-4 T milk for grinding almonds
3/4 cup whole almonds, blanched and skins removed
1.5 cups sugar
A very generous pinch of saffron, crushed in a mortar
Sliced almonds and pistachios for garnish
1. Powder almonds coarsely. Add 3-4 T milk and grind to a smooth paste.
2. Bring milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Add crushed saffron, turn down heat and simmer milk till it is reduced to 3/4 th of the original quantity.
3. Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add almond paste and saute until paste is thickened and you smell a delicious aroma of almonds. Do not let it change color at all. Add sugar and mix until sugar dissolves and the paste become thin. (Some people also skip the sauteeing step and add paste directly to the hot milk. But then you need to boil the milk longer like for 25 min, to cook the almonds. I always had the problem of burnt payasam when I simmer it for such a long duration.)
4. Add the paste to the simmering milk and simmer for 10 min more. Garnish with sliced nuts.
This kheer is best served cold. It is not very sweet like other payasams.
Posted by Mika at 7:50 AM