Sago Payasam is a classic dessert in Tamil Nadu in South India, along with Vermicelli and Rice Payasams. Payasams are sweet desserts, the milk condensing and thickening as it cooks and the sugar sweetens this thick mixture to a level almost beyond the experience of cooks outside of India. Hold back on the sugar to begin with if you do not have a sweet tooth.
0.5 cup sago
0.5 – 1 cup or less of sugar, or use Jaggery
0.25 tspn cardamom seeds, crushed or powdered
1 Tblspn raw cashew nuts
2 – 3 tspn ghee
2 – 2.5 cups full cream milk
Roast the sago for about 3 mins in 1 tspn of the ghee. Put aside, and roast the cashews in the remaining ghee. Put nuts and ghee aside.
Mix 0.5 cup milk with 0.5 cup water and bring to the boil. Add the sago and cook well until the sago is translucent. Stir every minute or so, as it can catch on the bottom as cooking progresses. Add more milk and water if needed.
Add the remaining milk and stir. Let it cook well for a few minutes. Add the sugar and stir for 2 minutes.
Add the cardamom and stir well. Then tip the nuts and ghee into the sago. Mix to combine
Serve it hot or cold. A little lemon juice can also be added at the end for additional flavour.
This makes a very sweet dessert. If you have a sweet tooth, begin by adding 0.5 cup sugar and tasting before adding more.
Add some saffron to the boiling milk if desired. Stir well to mix.
Skinned almonds can replace cashews.
2 Tblspn raisins can be sauteed with the cashew nuts and added to the payasam.