Gothambu Payasam is a popular Kerala dessert made with wheat, coconut milk and jaggery. Payasams or kheers are puddings made with milk/coconut milk a sweetener starch/fruit and flavored with a aromatic spices. No special occasion meal or sadya in Kerala or for that part most of South India is not complete without the dessert – payasam.
It is nearing Onam – the FESTIVAL for people with Kerala roots. Read more about Onamhere. It brings back a lot of nostalgia and of course cravings for ‘nadan food’. Chief among them are the various payasams and plantain chips .
Kheers or payasams come in many different flavors, depending on the fruit or starch used – check out these 2 very different versions – semiya payasam and jackfruit pradhaman. Some are smooth and drinkable (think smoothie) while others are semi solid almost like a thick custard.
Gothambu payasam is made with broken wheat cooked in coconut milk and jaggery. The texture is more soupy than that of a custard with the broken wheat providing the much needed textural contrast. A few aromatic spices like cardamom , and dry ginger enhances and complements the flavors.
Payasams made with coconut milk and jaggery are usually called pradhamans and this recipe in fact belongs in that category. It is gothambu pradhaman or wheat pradhaman , but we are more accustomed to calling it gothambu payasam .
This is the payasam that my mom used to make for special occasions. I am not sure which one I like more this wheat payasam or parippu paysam! I have often heard that gothabu payasam is easier to digest than the ones made with dals (beans), but some find wheat to be hard to digest as well – so there you take your pick.
Wheat is not a native crop of south India. Whole wheat used to be imported from other parts of India and milled as needed. Broken wheat is nutritious as it is the whole wheatberry broken into smaller pieces. The smaller size helps to reduce the cook time while maintaining the same nutritional values.
Broken wheat or nurukku gothambu or sooji gothambu as it is called was definitely not a typical everyday ingredient. Broken wheat comes in many grades – fine to coarse . I prefer the larger ones that do not disintegrate as it cooks while my many other cooks in the family prefers more fine grained textures. Which one you choose is up to you .
The finer ones give off more starches and thickens more , while the larger ones gives you a better textural contrast.
Traditionally pradhamans are made with fresh squeezed coconut milk. Check out this article on how to make fresh coconut milk . The recipe below uses fresh coconut milk and the canned or powdered versions can be found in notes.
Canned Coconut milk
There are different types of coconut milk in the market. If you have coconut cream use that as the thick milk or use the solids settled on the top of the can. Dilute the remaining milk to make thin milk.
Powdered Coconut Milk
Mix the powdered milk according to package directions . Use the double quantity water for thin milk and ½ quantity for thick milk.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can make the thin milk as thin as you want . The excess liquids can be cooked out. The thick milk is used to finish off the dish, and you do not want to boil the payasam after adding it , because it has a tendency to split when boiled vigorously. This is why coconut cream is a good choice. In the case of powder you could just mix it with a little payasam to make a thick slurry and add back in.
So there is no milk ? Is it vegan then ?
It is true that this kheer does not use milk, but traditionally a little bit of ghee is used to fry the garnishes. So if you are concerned with milk solids , chances are that there won’t be any. To make it completely vegan either dry roast the nuts and raisins or roast them in a little coconut oil.
Here the recipe for Broken Wheat or Gothambu Payasam.
Broken Wheat Payasam is a traditional Kerala dessert made with coconut milk, jaggery , broken wheat and spices. It is a delicious sweet treat that is served on special occasions.
Mix grated coconut with warm water and squeeze out the milk 3 times. (See Notes) . Reserve 2 C of thin milk, 1 C Medium thick milk and ½ C thick milk (Check notes for canned/powdered milk).
Cook The Broken Wheat
Wash the broken wheat and drain in a strainer. Heat the pressure cooker and add the broken wheat along with 2 C of thin milk and 1 C water. Cook for 1 whistle or about 6 to 7 minutes after it has reached full pressure.
Prepare the fried garnishes
In a small pan heat 1 Tbsp of ghee and toast the coconut bits . Stir the coconut often to prevent burning. Once the coconut has browned all around drain from the ghee and reserve .
Add he cashew nuts to the pan and toast till golden brown. Add more ghee if needed. Drain and reserve .
Add the raisins to the ghee and toast till it fluffs up. Drain and reserve.
Add the jaggery to the same pan and cook over low heat. As it begins to melt add 2 to 4 tbsps of water to prevent it from burning. If you are working with more yellowish jaggery this is the time to caramelize it a little to get that brown color.
Once he jaggery has liquefied , pour it through a strainer to remove any impurities.
Open the cooker and check if the cracked wheat is cooked through. If needed cook a few more minutes.
Add the melted jaggery and 1 C of the medium thick coconut milk to the wheat . Mix and let the mix come to a boil . Reduce the heat and let it slow boil until the mix looks a little thick . Taste and adjust jaggery to your taste.
Powder the cardamom seeds and cumin seeds using a mortar and pestle.Add the powdered spices to the payasam.
Add the thick milk and mix together. Turn off the heat once tiny bubbles begin to appear on the sides of the payasam. Do not let it boil.
Mix in most of the fried raisins, cashew nuts and coconuts.
Cover the pan and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.Transfer to the serving dishes and garnish with the remaining fried bits.
The directions are for pressure cooker, to make in a stockpot bring the water wheat mix to a boil and cook on low for 25 .
Broken wheat is also known as cracked wheat or sooji gothambu.
For ore details on making fresh coconut milk check here.
If using canned milk – skim off 2 tbsp solids for the thick milk , Mix the rest together and dilute ½ C with 11/2 C water to makes the thin milk and use the rest as the semi thick milk.
Adjust the jaggery as per desired sweetness. Different batches of jaggery vary in sweetness. 2 C grated jaggery used here is equivalent to about 300g.
When not available brown sugar or piloncillo can be substituted.
Nutritional info for informational purpose only. Actual values may vary based on the brands/products used.
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.