While we adopted some of the western traditions like cutting cake at birthdays we have forgotten some of our very own. Bong moms always fed their children payesh on their birthday mornings. Generally served in silverware with loads of love. This is the payesh I always make for my daughter and this year was no exception.
In my childhood I used to never have payesh outside my home, as I never liked it in any other home. It took me some time to figure out why. There are 2 predominant ways to make payesh. I only like the method developed across border in Bangladesh (bangal payesh). The recipe below captures how my didu (grandma) and her daughters (my mom included) makes/made payesh. It’s more laborious but the fruit or payesh of labor is always sweeter.
- 1 lit of full cream milk
- 50 gm. of gobindobhog rice or kaala-jeera rice
- 100gms of sugar
- 50-100 gm. of khejur-gur (date palm jaggery) depending on your sweetness.
Wash the rice, drain and keep aside.
Pour milk in a heavy bottom pan and bring it to a boil. When it starts boiling add pre- washed rice to it and start stirring. You have to stir it continuously to prevent scalding at bottom as it thickens.
During the entire process you have to control the heat intermittently so the milk doesn't boil over. Wait till the rice gets cooked before you add sugar. It normally takes 30-40 mins for the rice on a medium heat to get cooked.
By this time the milk will change its color from milky white to a rich ivory. Once the rice is done add sugar**. The moment you add sugar the milk will loose its thickness. You need to cook it and stir continuously so that it regains its previous thickness.
When the milk is thickened to its right consistency turn off the heat. Wait for about five minutes to allow the payesh to cool down a bit (make sure you keep stirring during this time as well to prevent the formation of skin on top) and then add the jaggery depending on your sweetness level. Serve hot or cold.
I internationally omitted spices and nuts (like cardamom, cashew, raisins, etc.) This recipe allows you to enjoy the richness of the jaggery and doesn’t let the spices mask it’s flavor.
**TIP: Adding sugar before the rice is boiled, hampers the process of rice being cooked properly so add sugar only when the rice is well done.
Now get some remedy for your sore wrist, you’ll need it with all the stirring.