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Culinary Lessons with the Greatest Chef

My 81 year old Grandmother is amazing and not only do I think that but so does everyone in my big fat Indian family. Gran is the oldest member of our family, who loves to travel , cook and eat good food. Ever since I can recall I always have remember my Gran in the kitchen cooking. It was her labour of love to the family.
 
Of recently Gran has been rather ill and rarely is found in the kitchen cooking up her storm. My love of good food and my Domestic Goddess ways were cultivated by Gran from a very young age. In an Indian home a kitchen is a very important place in a home and more than often it is where everyone gathers. It would make sense as it is kind of hard to stay away from the gorgeous aromas that waft out of the kitchen. In her younger days Gran was the offical family cook and no wedding or prayer would be complete without her cooking outside on the open fires for up 500 people at a function. As I am the only Granddaughter I grew up loving the kitchen,learning about spices and the art of cooking. Our family is very spoilt as we have several amazing cooks so you know the food is always going to be delicious in every home.
Last week as we were coming to the last weekend of our Purtassi fast, Gran insisted on preparing a sweet dish as an offering for the prayer. Instantly I grabbed a notebook and pen and my phone to document this recipe.
The dish Gran prepared is a typically South Indian sweet dish. This dish is made as an offering during celebrations and rituals. In different parts of Indian slight variations on this dish can be found.
Payasam
Ingredients :
125g vermicelli (very fine strands that look like pasta)
1 litre of milk
125g butter
4 pods of Elachi
125g white sugar( using brown sugar changes the flavour and colour)
200g Sago ( soaked in a cup of cold water)
100g slivered Almonds
 
Method :

  1. Soak the Sago.
  2. In a deep large pot melt the butter and add the Elachi and Vermecelli till golden brown keep mixing so it does not burn. Do this on a low heat.
  3. Once it has changed colour remove and keep aside in a bowl.
  4. Into the same pot add the milk ,sugar and Sago (drain the water first before adding) and bring to a boil for 8minutes.
  5. Then add the fried Vermecelli mix well and allow to cook for roughly 25 minutes or until the Sago becomes glossy and shiny. The Vermecelli thickens the mixture.

6. Decorate with Almonds.
Cooking with Gran
 
Variations

  1. Sultanas can be added.
  2. Almonds can be coloured with food colouring for decorating.

Fresh cream and condensed milk can be added for a richer dish.If adding condense milk leave out the sugar and add it that stage.
Grandmothers are special humans. They love us,spoil us and cook us our favourite meals. To celebrate this amazing human in my life I intend on documenting her culinary creations so I never forget how to make these dishes. Food has that magic that takes us back in time to happy moments and places. Food joins people to their culture and religion.
Have you learnt to cook any traditional dishes from your Grandmother ? What did you learn to cook?
Be Inspired!
Ciao
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