Semiya Pasayam (Vermicelli Pudding)

Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cashew nuts and raisins – 8-10 each
Vermicelli/Semiya – 1/2 cup, heaped
Water – 1 cup
Whole Milk – 2 cups
Condensed milk – ½ cup
Saffron – a small pinch, steeped in a tablespoon of warm milk
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Salt – a small pinch

Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Fry the cashew nuts and raisins till golden, drain and keep aside.

In the same pan, roast the vermicelli till it turns golden brown in color. Take care not to burn it.

Add water and milk and bring to a boil. Add vermicelli, reduce the heat and simmer till verrmicelli softens and the milk reduces and thickens. Keep stirring every now and then.

Once the milk is reduced, add condensed milk, saffron, cardamom powder and salt. Stir well and remove from heat. Remember that the payasam will thicken as it cools. So take it off the heat just short of your desired consistency.

Garnish with fried cashew nuts and raisins. Serve warm or cold.

NOTES:
1. You can buy the pre-roasted variety of vermicelli, specifically packaged for making kheer. This should eliminate the roasting process, but I still do a quick roasting just to flavor the vermicelli with ghee.

2. Sweetened condensed milk helps in giving the payasam a thick, creamy consistency. You can replace it with 1/2 cup of white sugar instead.

3. If you need to serve the payasam later and it has thickened considerably, thin it out with some boiling hot milk or water.

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