I have had a love-hate relationship with sago. I love it in any of my dessert but when I try to cook it, I end up getting messed up lumps or thickened concoctions with no sign of the beautiful pearls in it. How much I hate that! When I was going through blogs, I was feeling satisfied that even experienced blogging cooks were facing this problem!
Finally now, I have learned what kind of sago to go for, and how to cook it to ensure that those beautiful pearls are there when you need them. A big thanks to my FB friend, Afsath, for being very patient with my umpteen number of questions and answering them in detail. Finally, I am back to being in love with sago! :)
Here is a delicious payasam, very simple to prepare (provided your sago does not sink into oblivion!), yet very flavorful. The time my B saw the payasam, he asked sarcastically, "Ethentha?" ("What is this?"). At the end, he was the one who wiped off whatever was remaining after serving everybody.
3/4 cup sago, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
1 cup jaggery, melted
3 cups milk
A pinch cardamom powder
1 tbsp ghee
5-6 cashew nuts
Drain the soaked sago and put into a saucepan with triple the water (almost 2 litres of water). Bring it onto a rolling boil and reduce the flame to meduim-low and continue cooking till the sago turns fluffed up and transparent. This process takes around 15-20 minutes. As soon as it turns transparent, run the sago through a large seive and pour cold water into it. This will keep the sago pearls separated. Keep aside.
Meanwhile, boil milk in a thick saucepan till it reduces to 3/4 its volume. Add the sago and cook for not more than five minutes, otherwise it will get smudged up. Switch off the flame, add the jaggery and combine well. As per Rak's, we shouldn't boil milk after adding jaggery as it would get curdled. So I didn't go to take that risk. :)
In a small saucepan, heat the ghee, fry the cashewnuts and add it to the payasam. Enjoy the yummy payasam!!!