The friend for whom I'd originally brought it is rarely in touch now and I would hate to disappoint the current friend who made this request so it shall go to her. I was relating this whole episode to another friend and she said, "I like the way you keep finding things in your pantry from two years ago! It must be a veritable treasure trove." Well, I often think it's more a liability and a sign of management failure but this item is going to have a happy ending for sure!
The flip side of Treasure Trove is Bottomless Pit, and despite some periodic and concerted cleaning, I still end up with a lot of stuff. Anyway, I've said all this before on this blog, and found out that I have a lot in common with many among you, dear readers, but there was one item that I intended using up soon.
Soon came after a couple of years.
It was a packet of couscous that I had forked out a lot for at an organic store so I didn't really mind the couple of insects that revealed themselves by rising to the top once I finished boiling it; I just skimmed them away telling myself that they were too flimsy for me to feel any disgust. There was much more left over than I had estimated, and it was much more than we could reasonably eat without feeling we'd never want to eat couscous again. Not with two more fresher, recent packs of it in the fridge.
Finally, the lion's share of the remnants went into this dessert. It really was a brainwave, even if I may say so myself, and we just have half a cup of cooked couscous to use up - maybe I'll just toss it into some rice or gravy tomorrow but for now, I've come up with a strange but tasty mixture of that hoary old dessert: pudding/payasam.
This is going off to Scrumptious who's hosting Sugar High Friday this month. The theme is The Test of Time which endeavours to display ancient recipes.
Kheer (Sanskrit: क्षीर/ksheera, Hindi :खीर, Urdu: کھیر/kheer) a traditional dessert in the Indian subcontinent, usually a rice pudding made by boiling rice with milk and sugar. It is often flavored with cardamoms, saffron, pistachios or almonds that have been soaked overnight and made into fine paste. Kheers are also made with grains other than rice, and barley kheer is a common variant in Northern India and Pakistan.
It is an essential dish in many Hindu and Muslim feasts and celebrations. While the dish is most often made with rice, it can also be made with other ingredients such as vermicelli (sayviah). The recipe for the popular English rice pudding is alleged to be descended from kheer, but this would be hard to prove, since similar rice recipes (originally called potages) go back to some of the earliest written recipes in English history (when there was practically no contact between England and South Asia).
For more information, go here.
The traditional payasam in India is commonly made with milk, sugar/jaggery and rice, vermicelli or sago. I used couscous instead. Also, instead of flavouring it with cardamom powder, I used a spoon of vanilla essence and a big stick of cinnamon, partly for a Western taste and also as I suspected that the couscous would absorb the milk rapidly and solidify into a puddingy mass, but that didn't happen.
Here's how you do this:
Cooked couscous, not small: 3-4 fistfuls
Milk: 750 ml - 1 litre
Sugar: 3-4 fistfuls
Cinnamon: 2-inch piece
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp
Ghee: 2 tsp
Cashews/raisins: A fistful of each
Boil the milk and turn off the heat.
Add sugar, stir until dissolved. Add the cinnamon too now.
Now add the couscous and heat on simmer till the milk reduces. (I must say I used too much milk and even reducing it wouldn't bring it even close to pudding consistency.)
While this is going on, fry the nuts and raisins in the ghee and keep them aside.
Once you give up on the consistency, turn the pudding off heat, remove the cinnamon, cool a while and add the nuts and raisins.
You can eat it warm and liquidy or you can chill it for a day and eat a slightly thickened version the next day. I, of course, ate both!
Sugar High Friday Couscous Payasam Humour Leftovers Dessert