Soak the sago in water for about half hour or till it doubles in size with a pinch of salt. This would help reduce the cooking time. Saute the vermicelli in ghee for a few seconds or till its brown and roasted.
In a heavy bottom pan add sago and keep stirring till it's cooked and transparent.
Add a little more water and the vermicelli and stir again till vermicelli is cooked.
Add the crushed cardamom pods.
Add sugar and mix well till dissolved.
Adding sugar will make the mixture thinner but that's fine.
Once the mixture comes to boil reduce heat and add milk.
Give a quick stir and let that simmer for another five minutes till the milk reduces a bit or the consistency of the payasam begins to thicken.
In a small tempering wok, add some ghee and heat, to it add the garnishing ingredients except saffron strands.
Once golden brown and crisp, remove from heat.
Add the garnish to the payasam.
Remove from heat and serve hot with saffron strands sprinkled on top.
You could add the silver or gold foil to add an oomph factor to this otherwise humble dessert and make it deliciously rich.
Bawarchi of the Week
Chitra Ramachandran is a very talented home cook who is enthusiastic about South Indian Vegetarian cooking styles.