Nolen Gurer Payesh
(Plam date Jaggery rice pudding)
Poush Sankranti is the festival of harvest.
Now I had initially decided to learn how to make fried 'Pithe' from my grandmother but then somehow I couldn't get over the idea of smooth creamy rice pudding or payesh as we call it.
To be fair one who has not tasted 'Noel gur' (Date palm jaggery) would not understand that delightful taste which all of Bengal can't get enough of during the winter season. To be fair these days much like everything else on offer this winter's delight is available much before autumn sets in but if you ask the pros they still advice you to use it when its supposed to be used, which is during the chill of the winter season from somewhere in mid December.
Now coming back to the Festival of harvest when it comes to harvest I cannot but have fond memories of acres of rice paddy which we own in Burdwan. My family had moved to the big city more than a century ago and we are what one would call essentially city dwellers living in the heart of the metropolitan city of Calcutta but we come from a district known for its beautiful variety of rice, Burdwan.
As a child my parents would take me to our village every 15 days and it would get me far from the madding crowd. I distinctly remember the voice of that lonely bird while I sat on the roof reading Malory Towers while the entire village and the fields beyond it lay in front of my eyes. I could see them from our roof and then I would set out with my father for a walk through the paddy fields.
I was essentially a free bird in the village. In the city I was sequestered in our home but every time we visited the village I could play all around the village and I had friends from every nook and cranny of our village.
What I remember most about my village were these huge storage of rice. Everybody in the village grew rice as did my family and they still do thanks to some loyal and honest help from some good people and every woman of every household would be bent over this fire made from wood and brick and stir a huge pot to make puffed rice.
As a result I almost make an instant connection with rice when I think of harvest.
I am sharing a classic recipe for Rice pudding made with Date Palm jaggery . To me the rice pudding should neither be too thick nor too thin and should have this creamy consistency. Usually people add raisins and cashew nuts to rice pudding but when I use Palm date Jaggery I refrain from using anything else so that the taste kind of remains classic.
This recipe has been passed down by my ant's mother and I was lucky enough to get hold of it. What is essential is the timing.
Makes about 6 servings :-
1 litre of full cream milk
3/4th tsp melted clarified butter or butter
1 handful rice which comes to about 1.5 tbsp heaped washed short grained rice
Palm date jaggery as per requirement (I needed about a little more than 1 handful of crumbled jaggery)
1 green cardamom
1 large bay leaf
Wash the rice thoroughly and then take a heavy bottomed pan and add the rice and milk and clarified butter with the bay leaf and crushed green cardamom and bring to a boil while stirring the pan constantly and then lower heat to the lowest possible temperature and let it simmer.
Stir the pot every 7 minutes so that the consistency remains smooth and the milk doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pan.
After 30 minutes you would see the rice boiling well. keep stirring every 2 minutes and check at 50 minutes and dd the jaggery and keep stirring for another 3 minutes to 5 minutes and switch off the flame and let it cool down.
Chill and enjoy this winter delicacy
Important tips :-
- Never ever add the jaggery before the rice is fully cooked else the rice will remain raw
- The addition of clarified butter keeps the consistency to a smooth creamy one
- It is essential that you use short grained rice.
This is part of :-
Kolkata Food Bloggers' ongoign event 'Poush Sankranti Specials'