Festival and Desserts – BFFs!
It’s that time of the year again, festivals from Eid to Onam follow each other blazing a trail of delight, celebration and of course good, lots of great food! And in that procession how can dessert be left behind. To satiate your sweet cravings and to show off your culinary skills- presenting Meethi Sewiyan or sweet vermicelli from northern India, also called Payasam in Kerala and Payesh in Bengal.
All of them refer to vermicelli pudding in milk sweetened with sugar or jaggery and garnished with a selection of dry fruits and nuts. My favourite is sewiyan with milk sweetened with a combination of sugar and jaggery. Why jaggery? It has its own flavour- a bit nutty, a bit earthy that adds an extra layer of complexity. Read on for this crowd pleaser!
Vermicelli – the world’s favourite pasta?
Before I started exploring pastas and cooking for myself I wasn’t aware of vermicelli pasta. For us in India vermicelli is almost always available in its broken up form and used to make either a savory snack or dessert. The only other kind of fine vermicelli that I’d seen were thred like thin seviyan – sharing their name with their namesake dessert – that were usually used around Eid.
Prep time: 45- 60 minutes
Active: 35-40 minutes
Inactive- 10-15 minutes
Serves 4-6 people
- 1 tbsp ghee, (or unsalted butter),
- 1/2 cup semolina vermicelli,
- 1/4 cup almonds,
- 1/4 cup cashew nuts,
- 5-6 green cardamom pods,
- 1/4 cup green raisins,
- 1 to 1/2 cup milk,
- 1/4 cup water,
- 2 heaped tbsp sugar,
- 1- 1 inch piece of jaggery
To start measure all ingredients.
Soak green raisins in a cup of water and let them sit until the end.
Next, heat a pan and add ghee to it. Do this at medium heat so that the ghee or butter doesn’t burn.
Next, add cashews, almonds and 2-3 cardamoms to this and saute until golden brown. Remove from the pan and keep aside. Don’t drain the ghee, we’ll use it again to cook vermicelli.
In a thick bottomed pan add milk, water and remaining cardamoms and bring to a boil. Stir this mix occasionally to avoid any burning and sticking to the base.
While the milk boils, add vermicelli to the ghee in the first pan. Again, keep it at medium heat and lower as you see vermicelli cook and change colour. Stop when it gains a rosy hue. See images below and the best comparison is to check colour against uncooked vermicelli. All you need to avoid is burning it!
Now for the mixing- once the vermicelli is cooked and milk has come to a boil combine them in one of the pans. Stir and bring to a slow boil. You to cook on low heat while stirring at regular intervals if you want a pudding with thickened milk. Next add sugar, mix well and turn off the heat. At the end add jaggery. The key is to stop cooking when jaggery is added- it can curdle milk. But in small quantities at luke-warm temperatures jaggery will dissolve without spoiling all the work gone into making Sewiyan. It is common in Kerala to make Payasam with jaggery.
In the end add the nuts you had sautéed in the beginning, drain raisin that have been soaking in water and add them to sewiyan too.
You can enjoy right away or let it cool and serve chilled.