Happy Ugadi!! Hosa Varshada Haardika Shubhashayagalu!! We ushered in the New Year with Bevu-Bella(Neem and Jaggery) symbolizing both sweetness and bitterness in our lives.Our Ugadi began with a small pooja at home, replete with the offering of bevu-bella and fruits to God.
Appi Payasa was the sweet we had today along with the rest of the festive lunch. This rich and delicious sweet is my favorite when it comes to payasa. Papads of chiroti rawa, fried in oil till golden & crisp, crushed and simmered in milk, flavored with saffron and cardamom. It takes time and effort to make this, but its no doubt worth it. You can fry the happala(papad) and store this for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge. Then all you would have to do would be to simmer it in milk and there you are!! You have to eat this to believe how divine a payasa can be.
Chiroti Rawa(Very fine rawa): 3/4 Cups
Oil for frying
A little plain flour (maida) for dredging
Milk - 2 Liters( Full Cream milk tastes best)
Ghee- 1 teaspoon
Granulated Sugar(adjust to taste) - 1 Cup
A few strands of saffron, dissolved in warm milk
Cardamom powder 1/4 teaspoon
Cashew nuts 1/4 cup
Procedure: Make a very stiff dough with the chiroti rawa using the required water and a teaspoon of oil. Knead it well or bash with a rolling pin. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 2-3 hours. The dough being very stiff is extremely imperative as the papads need to be really crisp.
Heat the ghee in a kadhai (the same kadhai can be used for frying the papads) and fry the cashew nuts till light golden. Drain and reserve.
Divide the dough into balls the size of small lemons. If the balls are bigger, then you will need a huge quantity of oil for frying. (You can still roll them into big papads, cut into quarters and fry). Roll them into really, really thin papads, using the maida for dredging. (The maida will remain in the bottom of the kadhai and also not stick to the papads, unlike wheat flour, allowing them to remain free of the black specks) It will be difficult to roll out the dough as it will be stiff, but keep going!!
Fry the papads in medium hot oil, till they become crisp and light golden. Remember we want them light golden and not golden brown!! Drain on a kitchen towel. Once done, crush the papads well with your hands into very small bits. Discard any pieces or bits which are not crisp. Store in a dry, airtight container if using at a later point of time.
Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed pan.(You could first put the milk on boil and then proceed with making the papads, if making the payasa immediately) Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low and keep boiling till about 1/2 liter of milk gets evaporated. Keep stirring in between, making sure the milk does not get burnt or spill over at any point of time. Add the crushed papads to the milk and simmer till the papads get cooked - for about 15 minutes. Take off the fire, add the sugar, saffron, cardamom and the fried cashew nuts. Stir well till the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool. Serve warm or chilled garnished with saffron strands and nuts.
Please Note: If the payasa becomes very thick on storing, add some milk (and powdered sugar if needed) to adjust the consistency.
The above mentioned quantity of ingredients makes about 2 liters of payasa. You can try using 1/3 cup of rawa and one liter milk to make a smaller quantity. Vary the proportion of milk and rawa depending on how thick you want the pudding to be.