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Bengal's Favorite Rice Pudding - Chaler Payesh
A Pot Full of Good Luck
From the kitchens of Bengal comes a dessert that has a perspective of its own. Be it your birthday, your baby shower, your house-warming or be it Poush Parbon, Bengal's harvest festival, Chaler Payesh has a definite role to play. Chaler Payesh or Rice Pudding has such an influence on Bengal's culture that it cannot be overlooked. The making of Chaler Payesh is an art that is passed on from generations to generations in a Bong family.
Bengal's staple diet is rice. Long grained parboiled white rice is eaten in all parts of Bengal. You can say Bengal has an appetite for rice so it is very evident if their main dessert is made of rice. Well Chaler Payesh is always made from Gobindo Bhog rice or Kaljeera rice. These special small-grained aromatic heirloom rice has a distinct delicious flavor and can be well used in making dishes like Pilafs and Puddings. These diminutive sized rice grains can easily be cooked in ten minutes. Although the grains become tender still they remain firm even after cooking. What you cannot ignore about the "Prince of Rice" is its beautiful aroma. Kaljeera rice can be a great substitute of the long grained aromatic Basmati rice. Hence we can lovingly call it "Baby Basmati".
I still remember the birthdays while I was in India. On each birthday, it can be mine or Baba's (my father) Ma used to make this Chaler Payesh. How much busy we may be or there can be N-number of dishes still Chaler Payesh will definitely be there. Ma had a belief that Chaler Payesh has the capability to usher good luck on the people for whom they are made. My dad jokingly once said, "While the rest of the world will cut cake on their birthdays, we Bengalis will always cut payesh on our birthdays." Seriously his words are so very true then and even now. There was a time when Ma used to make payesh on special occasions like birthdays or some Pujas. And now I (following her footsteps) make Chaler Payesh on special occasions like my husband's birthday or when I invite guests for lunch. Truly speaking, I have to make payesh without occasions,now and then, because my husband is an ardent lover of payesh. In order to appease his appetite for it I have to make Rice Pudding at least once in every month. Well he is a calorie conscious guy but when it comes to payesh he can very well act like a greedy little kid. I have to monitor him constantly(in vain!) so that he might not overeat it (which, somehow, he manages almost every time).
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Recipe Straight from the Heirloom
Bengali's Rice Pudding making is not at all a difficult job. It is very easy. Still I can say that each and every Bong household has its own unique version of making Rice Pudding. The recipe mainly differs according to the tastebud of that family. While some prefer Payesh a bit watery, I prefer the richer variety, (come on, every time we cannot count on how much calorie we are intaking!) for me the creamier the Payesh; the better it is. The Rice Pudding recipe that I am going to give today might be rich in calorie but definitely heavenly in taste!
Apart Rice Pudding, other recipes that I have learnt from Ma are Carrot Halwa and Mustard Steamed Prawns. Check them out sometime. In this Mother's Day Special Week I dedicate these recipes to you, Ma.
The Making of Chaler Payesh a.k.a Bengali Rice Pudding
- 1 handful Kaljeera/ Gobindo bhog rice, washed and drained
- 1 liter Whole Milk
- 3 to 4 Green Cardamons
- 3 to 4 Bay Leaves
- 1 pinch Saffron Strands
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1 1/2 cup Sugar, preferably dust
- 1/2 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 handful Raisins
- 1 handful Cashews
- 1 handful Almonds, blanched and peeled
- At first take a large deep bottomed vessel. Start boiling 1 liter of milk on medium heat. With the help of a spatula continuously stir the milk so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add pinch of green cardamon powder or few pods of cardamons in the boiling milk. Also add 3 to 4 bay leaves. A sweet aroma will start coming out of the milk.
- When the milk has reduced to some extent add sugar to it. Keep stirring the milk, scrapping the sides of the vessel occasionally. Now add the washed and drained rice to it.
- Add sweetened condensed milk and a pinch of salt in the milk. The condensed milk help the milk to thicken faster. Salt will also help to balance the taste. Keeping stirring.
- After say 10 minutes you will see rice surfacing out. The Kaljeera rice cooks fast so it will not take than 10 to 12 minutes to get your rice cooked.
- Add raisins, cashews and almonds into the boiling pudding.
- After sometime you will notice the milk has almost reduced to half. It has thickened and color has become creamy white as you can see in the above picture. You will know your rice pudding is almost ready. Add few strands of saffron and boil the pudding for some more time before switching off the heat completely. Cover it and let it cool. You can also keep it inside the refrigerator. In the refrigerator the pudding will thicken further from the cold.
- Next when you want to eat it, take it out and serve it in small porcelain bowls with garnished nuts and raisins on top. Enjoy your very own Chaler Payesh!
|Serving size: 1 bowl|
|Calories from Fat||603|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 67 g||103%|
|Carbohydrates 147 g||49%|
|Sugar 300 g|
|Fiber 9 g||36%|
|Protein 68 g||136%|
|Cholesterol 147 mg||49%|
|Sodium 600 mg||25%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Try Out Some More Bengali Delicacies
You Can Also Try Out This Rice Pudding with Date Molasses
Enjoy making Chaler Payesh and please give me feedback on how well it turned out. Waiting to hear more from you guys. Till then take care and Happy Cooking Folks!