The milk-based pudding called payasam can also be made with rice or legumes and is a mainstay at Kerala feasts. This recipe uses very thin wheat noodles, and its flavor is even better if you let it sit overnight and thin it with a little bit of milk before you serve it.
- 4 tsp. ghee
- 2 oz. semiya (fine Indian wheat noodles) or angel hair pasta, broken into 1" lengths
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup golden raisins
- 1⁄2 cup raw cashew halves or pieces
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cardamom
Heat 1 tsp. of the ghee in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add noodles, and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Put milk and 2 cups water into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Add toasted noodles, and cook, stirring constantly to prevent milk from boiling over, for 5 minutes. Add sugar, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent noodles from sticking to bottom of pan, until noodles are swollen and milk is the consistency of heavy cream, 45–60 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tsp. of the ghee in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add raisins and cashews, and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes.
Stir half of the toasted raisins and cashews into the noodles and thickened milk, then add the cardamom, gently stirring until well mixed; remove from heat. Serve pudding warm, garnished with remaining toasted cashews and raisins.