Where a rice pudding is ceremony and blessing
Payesh, when perfectly made, is wonderfully creamy, smooth and custard-like, yet eggless. Today, my mother made a batch, complete with a sprinkling of chopped cashew nuts and plump raisins and flavored with bay leaves and cardamom.
I had asked her to teach me how to make it, but she made it when I was sleeping on a Sunday morning. Obviously, she didn’t have the heart to wake me up from my weekend slumber. Today was not my birthday, but I wanted to learn how to make it and eat it, too. I couldn’t watch her make it; here is the recipe as I heard it later. So, this is untested in a lab kitchen, but if you trust my mother, as I do, then go ahead and make it. Remember that the secret to great payesh is constant stirring and adding the sugar after the rice is tender.
1 quart (about 1 liter) whole milk
1 cup water
3 bay leaves
6 small cardamoms, crushed
- Put half of the milk, bay leaves, rice, water, cashew nut, and raisins in a pot and bring to boil.
- Cook stirring until the rice is cooked, about 15 minutes, on low heat.
- Put the rest of the milk and sugar, and continue stirring until the milk thickens, about 15 minutes, on low heat.
- Add the cardamom, stir, and turn off the heat. Serve warm or chilled, garnished with a spring of mint or a swirl of thick honey.
Note: Grate nutmeg on top for a more complex flavor.