Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Varagarisi Badham Payasam - Kodo Millet and Almond Payasam

The Navarathri festival just got done with last week. During the nine days, I make different sweet dishes for each day and a legume based simple stir fried dish that we call sundal. I have with me a list of the specific neivedhyams offered as given to me by an elderly neighbour in Madras. He was a scholarly old man who was associated with eminent people in the literary field. This list was shared by one such person to this uncle. Thus I use it as THE guide. That list is just a part of all the special dishes that are prepared, while the payasams and sundals complement the menu.
During my recent visit to home, my sister told me that my cousin's doctor recommended her a diet with millets and that they find cooking them easy and that they enjoy them. There were magazines that were pouring in recipes and nutrient information that piqued my interest. Also, while I was there, the Government was promoting use of millets. There were organised events that promoted cooking and using of millets. I gave in and picked small quantities of most of those available in my local grocer's shelf. The dhobi who comes home to press our clothes purchased, picked and cleaned a few for me. she also instructed me how to cook them.
I packed whatever I had found and when I displayed my lot, the other one person whom I will have to share was skeptical. I was determined, however, and introduced them in dishes that they may blend well. Thus chola dosai (shorgum crepes), kudhiraivali ven pongal (savoury pongal with barnyard millet) etc. became regular dishes. Then with the advent of the festival, I announced to him that I am venturing a little further, and venture I did with relish. I cooked a few sweet dishes with millets going  more on a whim and fancy. Thankfully, I also knew to play them safe and I have a few recipes that we liked and decided were worthy of putting on this space.
Today's recipe is an attempted vegan dish which can also work with regular milk, though I prefer this version. I made this a bit thick in its volume so much as pudding; one may adjust to make it more of drinkable texture.

Kodo millet and almond payasam
Varagarisi Badham Payasam

This recipe makes 600 ml payasam that is creamy and has a slightly thick body.


¼ cup kodo millet/ varagu arisi

10-12 numbers almonds whole

½ cup powdered jaggery

1 cup first extract of coconut milk

Cardamom powder, nutmeg powder for flavouring

Almonds and cashews toasted in a little coconut oil for garnish


Soak the almonds in water, remove the peel.
Pick, wash and soak the kodo millet for about 20 minutes. Alternately you can run it in the mixer and make a coarse powder that can be added directly to the almond paste later.

Dissolve the jaggery in warm water, strain to remove impurities. Place it in a saucepan and boil until the rawness subsides.
Meanwhile, grind the soaked almonds and millet to a fine paste adding sufficient water.
Transfer the paste to a heavy bottom pan, add about 1 and ½ more cups of water and cook on a medium to low flame stirring regularly. The millet-almond mixture will easily thicken and form lumps if unattended.

Cook this for about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary until they cook to a creamy semi solid mass.
Pour in the jaggery syrup, mix well and finally add the coconut milk.
Cook until they blend well and just about until the coconut milk has lost the raw flavour.
Add the cardamom and nutmeg powders. Stir them into the payasam.
Remove from the heat.
To make the garnish:
Heat two teaspoons coconut oil, drop the broken cashews and slivered almonds. Toss until they are golden and fried until brittle.
Garnish the payasam with the above.

If you need to double the recipe, adjust the jaggery , not exactly double but a little less.
I was going vegan with the recipe, but I am sure ghee will add to the flavour.
Cut slivers of coconut tossed in ghee/oil will also be good in the garnish.
I usually add a hint of dried ginger (about a pinch of finely powdered chukku) to most vellam based payasams. Since I used nutmeg, I opted that out in this.

Serve warm or chilled. 

Tweak as you like, adjust sweetness and liquid levels to your liking and enjoy the payasam. The chilled payasam, that had the pudding texture and the time to absorb the flavours,
tastes good that would leave one wanting another helping.


  1. almond and millet is a lovely and unusual combination. Looks really nice and creamy.

  2. Funnily enough, there was not much resistance to millets when I brought them home. Usually, anything healthy used to meet with some unwillingness.

    Somehow barnyard millet never cooperated with me.


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