I remember feeling proud of my mom from a very early age. She was a strict disciplinarian, so I was also a bit afraid of her, but mostly, I was in awe of her.
She was beautiful, smart, very good at her accounting job and was multi-talented. She knew how to drape a sari perfectly in 2 minutes (!) and how to make the most spectacular curries ever. And how to treat the help such that they showed up every morning with a smile on their face.
And how to make perfectly gorgeous clothes for me when I was a kid. And how to grow the most beautiful, enormous roses, as lovely as she was.
She was the strongest person I knew and I miss her every day. She passed away when I was pregnant with the munchkin, after a long battle with kidney failure. I tell the munchkin many things about the Ajjamma she never knew. Like her love of desserts, which parallels the munchkin’s own.
And to celebrate Mothers’ Day, I made mom’s favorite dessert. An authentic Mangalorean pudding made from split Mung Lentils and Sago pearls simmered in coconut milk, called Payasa or Payasam.
Mom looooooved this dessert. Payasam is a dessert made in all south Indian states with many variations and it is a treat made on special occasions. Like festivals, house-warmings, auspicious celebrations like poojas.
And it is served as the last course on banana leaves. And traditionally, you are supposed to slurp it off the banana leaves with your hands. Not my mom. She used to ask for a large serving in a glass. And sip it contentedly at leisure after she was done with the rest of the meal I know she also went for second and third servings sometimes.
Not that I blame her. This payasam is addictive. The melt-in-your-mouth mung lentils and the soft tapioca pearls come together with the coconut milk and the jaggery (unrefined sugar, used a lot in Indian desserts) to make a pudding like no other.
The hint of cardamom and the nuts and raisins make this a dessert to remember. It is traditionally served warm, but it is awesome cold too.
Since I had mom om my mind, I served the payasam in these lovely silver glasses that my mom got as a wedding gift. And the background is a Kanjeevaram Sari my mom helped me pick out. She had exquisite taste, didn’t she?
Here’s to you, Mom! And Happy Mothers’ Day to all you wonderful Moms out there!
And here’s the recipe.
Moong Dal and Sabudana Payasam
1/4 cup Moong Dal (Split and skinned Mung Lentils)
1/4 cup Sabudana (Sago Pearls)
1/2 cup Jaggery, grated (you can use sugar as a substitute)
1 tablespoon Raisins
10-12 Cashew nuts, broken into pieces
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom powder
1 teaspoon Ghee
400 ml Coconut Milk
A pinch of salt
Soak the moong dal and sabudana (separately) in water for about 2-3 hours.
Heat about 200 ml of the coconut milk in a medium pan. Add 1 cup water and the soaked moong dal.
Cook on medium flame for about 15 minutes or till the moong dal is half-cooked.
Add the soaked sabudana and mix well. Add 1 cup water, stir well and cook till the sabudana and moong dal are completely cooked.
Add the rest of the coconut milk and stir well.
Add the grated jaggery and mix well till completely dissolved. Add a pinch of salt.
Keep stirring and cook for about 5 minutes.
Heat the ghee in a small pan and fry raisins and cashew nuts till browned.
Add the ghee, nuts and raisins to the payasam.
Turn off heat and add the cardamom powder. Mix well.
Serve warm or chilled.