Entertaining is a pleasure. Entertaining foodies is even more of a pleasure. I love to cook, call people over and feed them. I like it when I see people relishing food. We are a foodie family. My father is an enthusiastic eater, but doesn't cook beyond the occasional sambhar or upma when my Mom is away. He keeps joking that its a good thing that my place is quite a distance from their place - dreads what would happen to his weight if I kept feeding him my experiments. When we were kids, he would make sure he got us snacks to eat even on short journeys . He would make sure my picnic lunch during my school days ended with a bar of milk chocolate. Brother loves to eat and does cook rarely, sometimes giving my Mom a day off from the kitchen on a weekend. My brother-in-law loves, loves food and is quite easy to please, whatever my busy doctor kid sis dishes up is happily demolished. Sis likes to eat, but would rather not spend any time in the kitchen on a daily basis if she could help it. My older sister is a very good cook, enthusiastic about cooking, but nothing that will be a three hour process puhleez, no thanks. No, am not going to bore you with more talk about my foodie uncles, aunts, cousins and the rest of the clan...promise! I bet I heard that sigh of relief:-)
Sis and family were to come over for lunch the next noon. The biggest budding foodie in the family is my son, I wouldn't have it any other way! He took a few of my recipe books to bed to help me decide what I could dish up. By morning, he was ready with the menu written on a piece of paper and put it on the fridge door. He even decided that the names of the dishes would be written on paper and placed in front of each dish (now whatever this is called, enlighten me!).
Foodie bonding also saw me give my brother-in-law a 'demo' of the Instant Microwave Brownie for those emergency sugar craving situations. The lunch was at short notice but there was no way I could not prepare at least two desserts for my brother-in-law's sweet tooth. The other one was a creamy and tasty Cashew And Coconut Payasam.
Here is how I made it.
Cashew nuts - 1/2 cup
Fresh grated coconut - 1 cup
Milk - 3 cups plus more as needed to adjust the consistency
Sugar - 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (adjust to taste)
Freshly ground cardamom powder - 1 teaspoon
Finely chopped, cashew nuts - 2 tablespoons.
Ghee - 1 teaspoon
Procedure: Soak the cashew nuts in enough hot water for at least 1 hour. When the nuts are soft, drain. Grind with the fresh coconut to a very smooth paste using some milk as needed to grind. Set aside. Boil the milk in a thick heavy bottomed pan. Lower the heat to minimum. Add the ground paste, mix well, ensuring no lumps. Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The raw smell of the cashew nuts should disappear. Add the sugar, cook for a few more minutes. Turn off the heat. Roast the chopped cashew nuts in a teaspoon of ghee till golden brown. Stir in the roasted nuts and the cardamom powder. Cool. Serve chilled.
Note : This will be sweet but not very sweet. If serving the payasam chilled, you may need to add more chilled milk to adjust the consistency. Have some powdered sugar on hand as you may need to add more sugar once you add the extra milk.