Last year I tried my hand at making two dishes from tender cashew nuts. This was when I was in Mumbai and had packed half my bags to come here. Mum had come to help me and she brought with her a pack of tender cashew nuts which I divided into two. One batch was used up in making a typical Konkani curry called Bibbe Sagle. We enjoyed that with some piping hot rice and dali tove another classic Konkani style dal which tastes oh-so-wonderful with rice and papad on the side. After we had gobbled that up I decided to make this Brahmin style payasam but not on the same day as we would have died of a heart attack (kidding!). Tender cashew nuts are supposed to be 'heaty/garmi' as we say in India and one is advised not to eat too much of it in one go. A few days later I made the payasam and it was finger licking good. I got the recipe from my sister-in-law Sumana who gave me her version of making it with freshly extracted coconut milk. I tried my own short cut method of making the coconut milk out of coconut milk powder instead of slaving over the process of extracting fresh milk from grated coconut. With a 5 month old baby and a load of packing to be done there was no way in hell that I would spend more than 30 mins in the kitchen, especially during the peak of summer in Mumbai!
The payasam was relished and promptly forgotten in the hustle of my final days in Mumbai and once I landed here the only time I remembered it was when I opened my folder of pictures or the freezer where I had another packet waiting to be used. I decided that since the cashew is typically a summer fruit in Mangalore and tender cashew nuts are available only during this short span of time and almost disappear from the shelves come monsoons, I would make it in March-April. But somehow I just couldn't manage to make it until today - when the calendar says that it is technically the last day of summer in Mangalore. I know, I know that there is no such thing as a last date of summer! But in my head, June is when monsoons start. At least that's how it used to be when I was little and schools would resume on the 1st or 2nd of June and the skies would be heavily laden with clouds waiting to burst and drench us. But let me keep these stories on hold for a while.
(My mum's nimble hands at work!)
In those days summers in Mangalore were something else. There used to be an abundance of seasonal fruits especially mangoes - not the alphonso but many varieties, the names of which I didn't care to know. It was enough to just sink my teeth in them and enjoy the sweetness. Summer also reminds me of this great aroma of roasted cashew nuts - oh man! Only those of you who have been blessed to take a whiff of this A.M.A.Z.I.N.G aroma will relate to me. Wasn't that the best thing ever? The juicy cashew fruits, the roasted nuts, mangoes, love apples, black jamoons (zambla) all remind me of the best time I had in Mangalore.
I know that it may be a little too late to find the tender cashew nuts in Mangalore. But if you are very keen to make this payasam then you may find really expensive ones at the flower market at Car Street. A small packet of 100 tender cashew nuts will set you back by like Rs. 200.
I am given to understand that this payasam (payasa as we call it in Mangalore) is prepared by the Havyaka Brahmin community so I am happy that I got to try one more traditional recipe from one of Mangalore's niche communities. A big thank you to Sumana for her perfect recipe! Enjoy!
Godambi Payasa | Hasi Geru Beejada Payasa ~ Mangalorean Brahmin Style Tender Cashew Nut Payasam
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 10-15 mins | Servings: 4
- 1 cup tender cashew nuts
- 2 cups thin coconut milk * see notes
- 1 cup thick coconut milk
- 125 grams (2/3rd cup) jaggery, powdered
- 2 tablespoons ground rice paste * see notes
- 3-4 cardamom pods, husked and powdered
- pinch of salt
- saffron to garnish (optional)
1. Soak the tender cashew nuts in a bowl of warm water for about 10-15 minutes. Then gently remove the skins and discard them. Discard the cloudy water and refresh the cashew nuts in 2-3 changes of water. Keep aside.
2. Place the thin coconut milk and salt in a heavy based pan/non stick saucepan or kadhai and bring it to a gentle boil. Add the tender cashew nuts and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the powdered jaggery and stir until it is melted. Bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat and add the thick coconut milk and let it come to a gentle boil. Take care to see that it doesn't bubble or sometimes it may curdle.
5. Now add the rice paste and stir the mixture continuously to avoid lumps. Finally add the cardamom powder and remove from heat.
6. Serve hot garnished with saffron if desired. It tastes great at room temperature or when chilled too.
1. If you are unable to use freshly extracted coconut milk you may use the one that comes in a tin or tetra pack. Usually it is very thick so to make a thin extract just dilute it with water. Alternatively you may use coconut milk powder that needs to be dissolved in water to reconstruct the coconut milk. To make thin coconut milk dissolve 4-5 tablespoons of coconut milk powder in 1-3/4th cups of warm water. To make thick coconut milk dissolve 4-5 tablespoons of coconut milk powder in 3/4th cup of warm water. If the milk looks too watery you can always add extra powder later but do remember that the payasam tends to thicken when chilled so it is good to leave it a little thin in consistency.
2. Adjust the thickness of the payasam by adding 2-3 tablespoons of rice paste or rice powder (flour) dissolved in a few teaspoons of water. Mix it very well to avoid lumps.
3. The ideal consistency for this payasam is of thin custard but if it turns out a little thin it is okay as it will turn out fine after being chilled.