Be it your birthday, a regional festival or an important occasion, or just a craving for something sweet, that familiar aroma will pervade through your house and bring back memories of every other instance that this sweet dish brought joy, happiness and the spirit of sharing. It will remind you about how you fought with your brother for the last spoon of that scrumptious sweet, or how impatiently you waited for your mother to take it off the stove and how you burnt your tongue because you couldn’t wait for it to cool down or the times somebody messed it up so bad that you just died a little after all that waiting or that one wedding where it tasted so good that you wished you could ask for a second helping and wondered if you would look too greedy.
Palada payasam is a traditional Kerala dessert that signals the perfect end to a sumptuous meal. This dessert is normally served at the end of a sadhya ( a grand vegetarian lunch with innumerable vegetarian dishes and rice). There are times when I have swallowed my food in eager anticipation of the sight of that white magical potion. The whiff of ghee and cardamom will penetrate your nostrils and the creamy milk, sugar and rice will excite your taste buds.
There are different kinds of payasam, the famous ones are Payaru payasam (green gram + jaggery+ coconut milk), Semiya payasam (vermicelli), ada pradhaman ( rice ada/flakes + coconut milk + jaggery) , pal payasam (rice, milk and sugar) and my personal favorite, Palada payasam (rice ada/flakes + milk + sugar). These can be prepared in different ways and eaten hot (preferably) or cold, whenever you feel like indulging in it. They are easy to make and recipes are available online. Try it out in your kitchen or make sure you taste at least one of them when you visit Kerala.