Semiya Sarkara Payasam is a creamy blend of jaggery syrup and coconut milk, enhanced by chewy and soft vermicelli, garnished with roasted cashew nuts and raisins. The play of flavours makes this sweet dish, cooked in ghee, a must have. Kerala style Semiya Sarkara Payasam is served on special occasions such as Vishu (Kerala’s New Year) and Onam (Kerala’s harvest festival), no Onam Sadhya is complete without payasam. But the sweet dish can be enjoyed on any occasion and makes a perfect dessert after a full meal.

The Charm Of Payasam

In North India, payasam is also known as kheer. Both versions of the sweet dish have essentially three ingredients in common, which are milk, sugar, and rice. One of the differences between the two is that kheer is made with milk and sugar and payasam is made with coconut milk and jaggery, though for the latter, milk and sugar can also be used. Also, kheer is thicker in consistency as compared to payasam. 

Semiya Sarkara Payasam is one among the many payasams, made in Kerala, which include Pal Payasam, Sago Payasam, Jaav-Arisi Payasam, Palada Payasam, Parupu Payasam, Gothambu Payasam, and more. The origins of Payasam have been extensively written about and there are several versions to it. 

 In an age of ready-made Payasam pouches, it's a treat to make Payasam at home with all the traditional ingredients as no shortcuts can compare to the original. However, to make the Payasam well, patience and practice are required. Below is the recipe for Semiya Sarkara Payasam. 

Ingredients:

    2 cups vermicelli

    1½ cups grated coconut

    1 cup jaggery

    3 cloves cardamom

    ½ cup cashew nuts

    2 to 3 tsps raisins 

    2 to 3 cups water 

Method:

    Grate the coconut. Put the grated coconut in a bowl and mash it till coconut milk is extracted.

    Drain the liquid coconut through a sieve to remove solid bits into a cup.

    Break the long vermicelli into small bits.

    Cut the jaggery into small pieces.

    Put up a bowl of water to cook.

    In it pour the jaggery and let it come to a boil.

    Meanwhile, grind the cardamom cloves. 

    Stir the boiling jaggery water a little and remove from the fire.

    Put up a pan on the stove.

    Add ghee and into it put the cashew nuts and saute, then add raisins and saute till the raisins become plump, then remove from the fire.

    Put up a pan and in it put ghee.

    Add the vermicelli to it and cook stir it in the oil for a minute or two minutes

    Add water little by little into the vermicelli and keep stirring. Let it cook.

    Add the jaggery syrup, mix, and let the vermicelli and jaggery water come to a boil while stirring continuously. 

    Add the coconut milk and stir. 

    Let it boil, but keep stirring occasionally.

    Add some more coconut milk and stir.

    Remove from the fire and add the raisins and cashew nuts mixture.

    Add some melted ghee on the top and stir well and serve.