July 31, 2023

Nei Payasam | Aravana Payasam

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 Nei Payasam also known as Aravana Payasam is very popular as prasadam in Kerala Temples especially Bhagavathy (Devi) Temple and Ayyappa Temple . Sharkara Payasam ,Kadu Madhuram or just Aravanai are some other names for Nei Payasam.

Nei means ghee and payasam means kheer. This payasam gets it flavor and taste from just 3 ingredients; rice,ghee and jaggery. The payasam is either garnished with fried coconut bits or ghee fried cashews . A pinch of ginger powder at the end elevates the flavor profile manifold. 

Though we call this as Nei Payasam, the consistency of nei payasam isn't like the usual paysam (kheer). Consistency of nei payasam is gooey and thick similar to sakkarai pongal . 

Originally, Kerala Matta raw rice or red rice is used in the preparation of Nei Payasam,but if that us not available we can use any short grained rice, but a strict No to Basmati rice as it will alter the taste of Nei Payasam, because of the natural flavor that Basmati rice possesses

 In temples, nei payasam is made in huge bronze urulis and slow cooking method is followed. Ghee is poured at intervals until the ghee is completely absorbed into the rice and jaggery mixture.  Normally, dark colored jaggery is used for preparing nei payasam, hence the color will be dark and deep brown. 

Aravana / Nei Paysam shouldn't be confused with sakkarai pongal though they may sound similar. The quantity of ghee used in Nei payasam in more also there is no use of milk or lentils. Because the quantity of ghee is more ,we cannot eat this nei paysam like any other paysam for dessert . Just a small quantity can be savored and that itself will be very satiating and satisfying. 

Even to this day, Bhagavati Seva Pooja always has the offering of nei paysam and the same is distributed to all those partaking in the Pooja . 

I have very fond memories of enjoying piping hot Nei Payasam and crispy fried Medhu Vadai served as prasadam in leaf cups after Bhagavathy Seva Pooja.  The taste still lingers on my tongue and nothing can beat the taste and flavor of prasadam that is blessed with divine vibrations.

Holy month of Aashada or Aadi or Karikatam(July 15 to Aug 15 as per English calender) is known for Bhagavathy Seva ,many Brahmin families hailing from Kerala / Palakkad have the tradition of performing thus pooja at home on either Tuesdays or Fridays in this holy month .

So,whether or not you perform Bhagavthy Seva at home,you can always prepare Nei Payasam and offer as prasadam during auspicious pooja days or even on Tuesdays and Fridays during Aadi Maasam .

Preparation Time - 15 to 20 mins
Cooking Time - 45 mins
Complexity- medium 
Serves - 2 to 3


3/4 cup raw rice (I have used Sona Masuri )
3/4 cup powdered organic jaggery 
1/2 cup ghee 
Few cashews 
Pinch of dry ginger powder 
Pinch of cardamom powder 


  • Wash the rice well and pressure cook it with 3 cups of water and let the pressure release naturally. 
  • The rice must be cooked well and soft but not mushy . With the back of ladle ,lightly mash the rice but don't make it mushy . 
  • In a thick bottomed vessel , melt the jaggery with 1/2 cup water . We don't need any string consistency  just the jaggery needs to melt . Incase ,you see any impurities in the jaggery syrup,then filter it out and bring the syrup to a quick rolling boil.
  • Slowly add the mashed and cooked rice and mix it well without any lumps .Gradually add the ghee in parts and keep stirring until all the ghee is well absorbed into the nei payasam and the paysam looks glossy and well done .
  • If you are using coconut bits ,fry them in ghee until it turns golden brown and crisp ,likewise the same with cashewnuts as well.
  • Add this to the nei payasam along with cardamom powder and ginger powder and mix it well .
  • Offer it to the lord and distribute it among family and friends. 

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July 05, 2023

Maangai Sambar | Raw Mango Vegetable Sambar

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 Raw mangoes mark the beginning of summer and the pickling season.  Apart from making pickles ,raw mangoes can be used in a variety of recipes in our day to day cooking.

The  sourness, tartness and a mild hint of sweetness adds up a lot of flavor profile to the recipe.  Earlier we had to wait for summer to get good Raw mangoes, but now with so much improvement in cold storage facilities, we do get good Raw mangoes all through the year .

The current situation in Indian markets,is the cost of tomatoes which are sky high and we have to use them sparingly . In these times,Raw mango sambar has come to my rescue. Raw mangoes are a perfect work around for tomatoes. 

Depending on the tartness/sourness in the raw mango we can adjust the usage of tamarind pulp.  Most of the times we don't need to use tamarind as the sourness from the mango balances the flavors well . 

I use some vegetables like pumpkin and capsicums in my sambar recipe because we like to have lots of veggies in the sambar . You can also use carrots ,drumsticks ,Brinjals as well in this same recipe.

Piping hot sambar mixed in rice with a dollop of ghee is just out of the world . Pair this sambar with a coconut based vegetable stir fry and serve along with some papads to enjoy a wonderful lunch experience. 

In our Facebook gourmet food group Shh Cooking Secretly!!! , we are sharing Mango based recipes for the month of June .

Anu Kollon who hosted the theme, suggested we use mango in any form, either raw or ripe in our recipe.   I have used raw mango as the star ingredient while my partner Narmadha has made Mango Popsicles using ripe mango . 

If you are looking to exploring some lipsmacking recipes using raw mango ,you must definitely check out my list below .

Maanga Pachidi (Mango relish)

Maanga Thokku ( spicy mango relish) 

Maavinkaai Chitranna ( Mango Rice)

Maanga  Thogayal (Chutney)

Maangai Pisaral (Instant mango pickle)

Aam Panna (refreshing Summer drink)

Preparation Time - 15 mins
Cooking Time - 20 to 25 mins
Complexity - Simple
Serves - 3 to 4


100 gms pumpkin 
1 medium sized capsicum/green bell pepper 
1 medium sized raw mango 
3 tbsp sambar powder 
3/4 cup thoor dall /pigeon peas
Pinch of turmeric 
Salt as needed 
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds 
Fresh curry leaves 
1/2 tsp jaggery powder 
Fresh corriander chopped
Pinch of asafoetida 


  • Chop the capsicum,pumpkin and mango into medium sized cubes .
  • Add 3/4 cup water ,Pinch of salt and cook the vegetables until they are well cooked. The vegetables must be firm ,yet well cooked . Donot keep stirring with the ladle,they will become mushy.
  • Meanwhile ,wash the thoor dhall well and pressure cook it with turmeric for 4 to 5 whistles with sufficient water. Release the pressure naturally and mash it well using a whisk or hand blender . The dhall must be soft and mushy. 
  • Once the vegetables are well cooked, add the sambar powder ,jaggery ,some more salt and bring it to a rolling boil. 
  • Slowly add in the cooked thoor dhall, adjust the consistency of sambar by adding some water if needed and let it come to a boil . You can add some sambar powder if you feel the spice is less. 
  • Prepare a tempering of mustard seeds,asafoetida and curry leaves in hot oil and pour it over the sambar .
  • Garnish with fresh corriander and turn off the stove.

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