The name for this delicious dessert would take some of you by doubt and no wonder as this is a pure Bengali addiction.We talk about Indian Rice Pudding famously known as Kheer and also realise that each region has a different version for the same.North India is famous for its Kesar Kheer which boasts about saffron infused rice and milk.There is the irresistible Payasam in the South redolent with Cardamom,a pinch of camphor and lots of dried fruits fried in hot ghee.In the same way,West Bengal has its version called Payesh which is a thick,rich and creamy pudding infused with Date Palm Jaggery or as it is famously called Nolen Gur,Patali Gur or Notun Gur.
Jaggery in India is raw sugar obtained by tapping the associated trees to obtain raw juice which is boiled and thickened and hardened into rock like raw sugar.This is sugar without the separation of Molasses and so has a colour ranging from light brown to a deep amber.Nolen Gur is raw Jaggery from the Date Palm and the Payesh or pudding thus made is extremely delicious!There is no such garnish for this pudding yet it it is elegant and light with an aroma said to draw people from a distance!
This Date Palm Jaggery was available during the months of December,January and February.But now due to the efforts of the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee,the Jaggery is available in liquid form in soft squeeze tubes.
Nolen Gur in a soft squeeze tube.
Here is the media coverage for this wonderful product.
∗There are a few cosmopolitan areas in India where you do not get “Whole milk” as in the milk does not thicken easily.In this case keep a can of Condensed Milk handy to thicken the Payesh!
The ideal rice to use is the West Bengal Gobindobhog.However you can also use Basmati or Sona Mansuri!
So lets get going with the recipe:
Preparation Time : 2 hours
Cooling time : 1 hour
Makes : 7-8 servings
2 litres whole milk∗
1 can Condensed Milk (optional – see note)
4 tbsp sugar (if not using Condensed Milk)
100 – 150 ml/gms Nolen Gur(see writeup on top)
1/3 cup golden raisins – soaked in water
80-100 gms Gobindobhog Rice/Mansuri/Basmati
2-3 Bay leaves(tejpatta)
In a cooking pot(non stick/earthenware),add milk and Bay leaves and put on the lowest heat of your stovetop.It would take around 20 minutes for the milk to start boiling.Add the drained rice and continue cooking for 40 – 45 minutes till the rice is cooked very well and the volume of the milk reduces to half the pot.It would take more than 1 hour for the milk to attain a thickish light pink colour.Add sugar and mix well and take off from heat.
If using Condensed Milk,boil the milk till the rice is cooked very well.Add the entire tin of Condensed Milk and mix very well.We do not need to add sugar here as the Condensed Milk already contains the needed sugar.Take off heat.
After 20-25 minutes,mix the Nolen Gur into the milk and stir very well to mix.If the Gur is liquid,you can mix it very easily,otherwise powder it and add to the milk if it is solid.Mix till the Jaggery dissolves and the mixture is a beautiful pinkish brown with a scintillating aroma.Add the soaked raisins and mix well.Keep covered till the Payesh comes to room temperature.
As the Payesh cools,it will thicken more and will taste absolutely divine!Serve cold or at room temperature!
Shots of the Payesh…