Also known as payasam, this recipe was taught to me by a builder on a beautiful island in Fiji in the 1990s. It is a great dessert, and a fun alternative to the standard rice pudding.
In a non-stick saucepan, warm the ghee over medium heat. Add the chopped nuts, along with the raisins. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the raisins become plump and the nuts turn reddish brown, stirring often. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, toast the rice grains for 2–3 minutes over low heat.
Stir in the milk, increase the heat to medium–high and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, until the milk has reduced by half, stirring regularly, to ensure the milk does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Also take care not to let the milk burn, as even a little burn will spoil the flavour.
Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then add the vermicelli noodles and cook for a further 20–30 minutes, or until the milk has reduced further, and the rice is cooked and has a soft, but not mushy, consistency.
Stir in the saffron, cardamom and half the sautéed nut and raisin mixture.
Serve warm or cold, garnished with the remaining nuts and raisins.
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