Thiruvonam is round the corner. Onam, as I’ve mentioned in my earlier posts is a harvest festival celebrated in Kerala. Celebrations start 10 days prior to the actual day of festival. Flower carpets or pookalams are laid out in the front yard of houses. And on the day of Onam, a grand festive meal or Onasadhya is prepared and laid out on plantain leaves.
Prior to my marriage, Onam was just another festival. Our Onam meal would be a regular meal of Sambar, thoran, papadam with the inclusion of Paal Payasam. But after marriage, my MIL, prepared a grand feast with all the essential items on the menu. FIL, MIL and me would sit and decide the menu a couple of days ahead and planning and preparation would start. Dishes like, Puli inji, Kaalan and Nendrankai Chips would be prepared beforehand. On the day of Onam, MIL, would meticulously and effortlessly prepare a delicious feast. My FIL would also eagerly help her out, in chopping the vegetables and scraping the coconuts. She would also lay a simple pookalam outside our house, with whatever flowers she can lay her hands on. So, Onam now is a festival which I look forward to with lots of enthusiasm as I strive hard keep up with the traditions of my family.
Payasam is a quintessential part of any feast and so it is with the Onasadhya. My MIL usually prepares Paal Payasam only as she offers it as neivedhyam to Lord Guruvaryoorappan. So I prepared this payasam on the starting day of Onam. The flavour of jaggery and coconut milk is something which cannot be explained in words, together with the sweet ripe plantains, the payasam was just divine.
Serves 5 to 6
What you’ll need
- Nendram Pazham – 3, ripe
- Thin Coconut Milk – 2 ½ cups
- Thick Coconut Milk – 1 cup
- Powdered Jaggery – 2 cups
- Cocount – ¼ cup, cut into small pieces
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Cut the nendram pazham into 2 inch pieces with the skin and steam them. Allow to cool.
- Remove skin; also remove the black stem like thing from the inside of the banana.
- Grind the banana and make it into a smooth pulp, do not add any water while grinding.
- Heat a thick bottom Kadai, add the jaggery with ½ cup of water. Dissolve the jaggery completely.
- Strain for impurities and pour it back into the Kadai.
- Add the nendram pazham pulp and mix well. Stir it well and mash with the back of the spatula if you find any lumps.
- Cook on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring continuously, till the banana and jaggery mixture come together as a mass.
- Now add the thin coconut milk and cook on medium flame for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.
- Turn of flame and add the Thick coconut milk. Mix well.
- Heat a small frying pan with ghee, fry the coconut pieces in it till brown.
- Add these fried coconut pieces to the prepared payasam and serve warm.
- Adjust jaggery according to the amount of fruit pulp you have. If you have 1 cup of pulp add 1 ¼ cup of jaggery. You can reduce to 1 cup, if you want it less sweet.
- If the payasam thickens, you could add a little milk.