1. Boil the milk. Stir in the sugar. Remove a tablespoon or two of the sweet milk and place in a small bowl. Add the saffron threads, sir well and set aside.
2. Return the milk to a boil then add the rice. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to make sure it does not burn, until the rice is cooked. Add the raisins before the rice is cooked so they can soften.
3. In a small skillet, lightly fry the cashews in oil or butter until golden over medium-low heat. Remove to a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
4. When the rice is thoroughly cooked, add the cashews, cardamom and saffron milk. Heat for a few minutes longer then remove.
This is best served hot but can be served room temperature or cold.
1 quart whole milk
1 cup dried red rice, well rinsed
1 cup sugar
Payasam is a traditional dessert made with boiled milk, a starch like rice or wheat, and sugar then flavored in a variety of different ways. Always served at festivals and important occasions, Payasam is considered a sign of hospitality and welcome in Indian households. Kachi served it to me when I first visited her home in Madras after my wedding. To me, it meant that her family welcomed me into their family. This traditional Kerala recipe for basic milk Payasam can be prepared very easily.