Across different cultures and religions around the world, a prayer before we eat is the most perfect way to begin a satisfying meal. Likewise, in Hindu culture, offering food to God before we savor it is a ritual that is passed on from generation to generation. This food that is offered as a token of gratitude is referred to as ‘Naivedyam‘ or ‘Naivedhya‘. After worship, naivedyam is distributed to members of family (if at home) or to devotees (if at a gathering or a temple). This offering of sacred naivedyam to devotees is referred to as ‘Prasadam‘ or ‘Prasad‘. Naivedhya is almost always vegetarian. It could be different kinds of rice, sweets, fruits or dry fruits.
One of my favorite varieties of Naivedyam to prepare and offer to God on auspicious occasions and/or festivals is ‘Paramannam‘ (In telugu, Parama means significant or sacred and Annam means cooked rice). To prepare this traditional dish, rice is cooked with jaggery and milk. Jaggery gives the rice a beautiful brown color and sweetness whereas Milk provides a nice creamy texture. There are two ways to prepare this sweet delicacy – Cook rice in a rice cooker first with water and milk and then finish off the rice with some more milk and melted jaggery in a sauce pan on the stove top; or Take water and milk in 1:2 ratio in a sauce pan and slowly cook rice in it, when rice is almost done melt jaggery in some water or milk, add to the rice and then finish it until done. Both ways should work fine, but to me cooking rice in a cooker is definitely time saving and yields perfectly cooked rice. Whatever method you choose, flavor the milk with powdered cardamom seeds for the beautiful fragrance it adds to the rice. Finish off with some fried cashews and raisins and some ghee.
Let’s talk about jaggery! For those unfamiliar, it is a natural sweetener made by boiling sugar-cane juice or date juice in very large shallow vessels. After simmering it over a long time, the resultant sticky, thick syrup is jaggery. Once, it is cooled down it is divided into different sized blocks and packaged. I still have fond memories as if it was just yesterday – When I was little, we would visit our uncles and aunts in the village once in a while and they would always take us kids to the wide open fields of crops like cotton, sunflowers, tomatoes, brinjals and paddy to name a few. We would wander in the fields eating freshly cut cucumbers sprinkled with some salt and red chilli powder. On few occasions we would also stop by the place by the fields where jaggery was made. The workers there would let us handle the long iron spatula like things to work the syrup while they simmer. It is always fun to know the process behind the food we eat.When we were all tanned and sweaty due to the blistering heat, we would return from the fields all tired and worn out but with an unforgettable experience.
This post is sweet and special as it is the 100th post on this blog :). I missed recognizing the 1 year mark of ‘Food Paradise’ in January but didn’t want to miss this! It has been a great year of blogging and I hope this blog continues to motivate me and inspire others to enjoy cooking!
If you can get hands on some jaggery available at most Indian or other Asian grocery stores, don’t skip making this delicious creamy goodness.
Prep time + Cook time: 40 mins
- Rice (preferrably Sona Masoori) – 3/4th cup
- Jaggery – 1 cup (Add extra 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter)
- Milk – 2n1/2 cups (1 cup while cooking rice in cooker + 1n1/2 to melt jaggery and finish off the rice)
- Water – 1n1/2 cup
- Cardamom/Elaichi powder – 1 tsp
- Cashews – a fistful
- Raisins – a fistful
- Ghee – 2 tsps
1. In a rice cooker, take well-rinsed rice, double the amount of water (~ 1n1/2 cups) and milk (1 cup). Cook rice until it is almost done.
2. In a sauce pan, take another 1n1/2 cup of milk, add cardamom powder and jaggery cubes. When the jaggery melts add the cooked rice to it. On low-medium heat, cook rice until its nice and creamy.
3. In a small tempering pan/saute pan, heat a tsp of ghee. When it melts, add cashews whole or half split) and raisins (roughly chopped) and saute until palely brown.
4. Once the rice is done, garnish with the sauteed cashews and raisins. To finish off, drizzle a generous spoon of ghee over the rice.
Serve warm with more ghee or milk as needed.
- Another way is to cook rice in the sauce pan itself with 2 cups each of milk and water. Melt jaggery in 1/2 cup water and then add to the rice. Then, top off with sauteed cashews, raisins and ghee. But, this way takes much longer time!