This is the photo on the card for the Sri Lankan dessert Payasam that accompanied the recipe in my Kitchen Trotter box. It's a sweet, nutty, starchy pudding flavoured with cardamom and it looks like rice pudding so I did a double take when I saw vermicelli on the ingredients list ! I really didn't think we'd enjoy it but I always like to try exotic recipes, even ones that don't sound all that tasty, because there are some pleasant surprises - and this actually ended up being one of them !
You can make it thick like blancmange as in the top photo or runny like porridge and the recipe card says you can eat it hot or lukewarm, depending on personal tastes. I actually preferred it cold (at room temperature) when it had been sitting in the pot for a couple of hours and all the liquid had been soaked up. It's a soft, nutty and sweet dessert and you really can't detect the pasta in there. I loved it but the Madhouse kids didn't like the taste or the texture. I had a quick look online and you can make it with rice too.
30g shelled pistachios
3 cardamom pods
4 strands of saffron
1/2 litre milk
Roughly chop the pistachios and cashews. Remove a few tablespoons of the mixture to a separate bowl for later then add the raisins. Reserve.
This recipe called for two ingredients from the Sri Lankan-themed Kitchen Trotter box - saffron and cardamom pods. Slice the pods open and remove the seeds (which is the bit you want).
Melt the butter in a saucepan and toss in the nuts/raisins. Add the saffron and cardamom seeds. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the nuts start to go brown.
Measure out the milk, then take 3 tbsp of it and mix in the cornflour in a separate bowl.
Pour the remaining milk, the sugar and the vermicelli into the pot and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is well cooked.
It will already start to reduce and thicken.
Pour in the milk/cornflour mixture and keep stirring - it will thicken up like custard very quickly.
Turn off the heat, serve in bowls and sprinkle with the remaining nuts. It can be eaten as hot or cold as you want and if you want a runnier texture, add more milk or put in less cornflour. The nuts, raisins and cardamom give it a lovely exotic flavour.
If you fancy trying some more Sri Lankan cuisine, how about Kadai Chicken, Egg Hoppers, Chicken Biryani or Crispy Medu Vada-style Lentil Fritters ?