Story by Kiran
I have wonderful memories from my childhood. Having grown up in a joint family, I was surrounded by a huge family — paternal grandmother, uncles, aunts and half a dozen cousins. And one of the benefits of hailing from a big family is that my brother and I had access to a variety of delicious delicacies. Every other day my aunts would prepare something or the other and we would gobble everything up with the utmost zeal which we hardly showed for anything beyond food.
Although our aunts and mother made lots of dishes, no one pampered us more than our granny. It seemed the purpose of her life was just to spoil us with all kinds of treats. She would wake up early morning and finish her daily activities while also running after the grandkids. After all of us would go off to school, she would busy herself preparing for the evenings. The evenings were always reserved for her. No matter how tired we were after school, we wouldn’t miss the evenings with her at any cost. We called it “Granny’s hour.” After completing all our school activities and other tasks, we would make a beeline for granny’s room.
She would sit cross-legged on her cot ready to welcome us with her pot of delicacy. She would narrate tales from the Mahabharata and Ramayana in animated fashion as we lost ourselves completely in the world of mythological figures and flying chariots. It wouldn’t be till the end that we realized our uncles and aunts joining us for the tales. Granny would act the scenes with all her passion while keeping an eye on her pot of treat too. She would make it a point not to treat us to the delicacies until the very end. Some evening she would treat us to karadantu while other times it would be enne gai or pootharekulu. The best memory I have of those hours is the evening when she made bellada shavige payasa. It was utterly delicious and none of us could have enough of it. In fact, it was so tasty that I had one litre of the kheer. No doubt I had cramps after that but they were worth all the pain in the world.
Recipe for Bellada Shavige Payasa
- 1 cup of vermicelli
- 1 cup of bella (jaggery)
- 1-1/4 cups of water
- 1 cup of milk
- 1-1/4 tablespoon of ghee
- 1/4 tablespoon of cardamom powder
- 1 cup of chopped almonds, cashews, raisins
- Heat 1/4 cup of water and jaggery in a pan to melt the jaggery. Keep it aside to cool down.
- Now, heat another pan and add ghee. Toast the cashews, almonds and raisins to garnish later on.
- Add the remaining ghee in the same pan and toast the vermicelli until golden brown.
- Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of milk to boil then add the vermicelli. It is important not to overcook the vermicelli.
- After the vermicelli is cooked, pour the melted jaggery and cardamom powder. Let it cook for about 4 minutes.
- Garnish with the toasted nuts.