For me, Chaler Payesh is a nostalgia. It was a part of my growing up – no festival or occasion was ever celebrated in my house without preparing payesh, and when it’s my mom’s special payesh it had to be Chaler Payesh. My mom still prepares payesh in every occasion, but as we both sisters are now far away from home, the only lucky person who relishes is my Dad.
Apart from puja and other occasions, the mandatory days when my mom used to make chaler payesh is – me and my sister’s birthday and we call it Jonmodiner Payesh (pudding for birthday). Jonmodin or birthday as you call it, was primarily celebrated with payesh, cake being the secondary element. Every birthday used to start with ashirbad (blessings) followed by mishti mukh (sweet eating) with payesh followed by a grand home cooked lunch and then cake cutting in the evening gathering where again, payesh was mandatory. The aroma of gobindobhog rice mixed with the creamy milk, the kick of sweet and the crunch of dry fruits, ahh! I really miss those birthdays.
At my kitchen, all I do is just try to recreate the magic of the truly talented cooks of my family – specially my mom and my pishimoni (Dad’s sister). So, here’s how I made my Chaler Payesh on the auspicious occasion of Kojagori Lokkhi Puja. Chaler Payesh is also called Poromanno (the supreme rice), the satvik and sacred rice that is served to God. The recipe is as follows:
- 1 litre full fat milk
- 1/2 cup (approx 4 table-spoon) gobindobhog rice or any other small grain rice
- 2 table-spoon ghee
- 12-15 cashew-nuts
- 12-15 almonds
- 4-5 green cardamom (elaichi)
- 2 bay leaves
- 5-6 table-spoon sugar
- Wash and soak the gobindobhog rice in water for atleast 30 minutes. Drain the water and keep the rice aside.
- In a heave bottom pan, heat the milk adding bay leaves and bring it to boil.
- Take out the cardamom seeds and crush them to powder.
- Crush the cashew-nuts and almonds into pieces.
- Once the milk starts boiling, add the rice, ghee, cardamom powder and crushed nuts and lower the flame.
- Cook in low to medium flame for 30 minutes or until the rice gets cooked well and the milk is reduced to half. Keep stirring frequently.
- Once the milk is reduced, add sugar and cook for another 5 minutes in lower flame.
- Turn off the flame and your Chaler Payesh is ready now.
- Let it cool down in room temperature and then refrigerate it for around 2 hours. Garnish with some more crushed nuts and serve chilled.
You can have it in room temperature or chilled, the choice is yours. Offer to the God or make the birthdays more sweet and memorable with this traditional Bengali Chaler Payesh.
Do write to me and tell how you like it. Happy festivities and happy eating!!!