There is a rather endearing practice common to almost all communities in India. At the first hint of anything positive and good in the horizon, any good news—a promotion at work, good grades in school, a college acceptance letter, news of a distant relative's pregnancy, the Indian cricket team scoring a win, doesn't matter what—30 minutes later there invariably will be a sweet dessert ready to share as a thanksgiving. In my house, it's a simple rice pudding known as paal payasam. Its a snap to make. Its not quite as thick as the English version, more like a thick soup.


1/2 cup Basmati rice
1 can condensed milk
1 quart 2% milk
1 teaspoon crushed cardamom
Saffron strands as needed


Step 1
Cook the basmati rice in 1 1/2 cups of water until its completely soft. You do not need the grains to be separate here. Mash down completely with the back of a wooden spoon.

Step 2
Combine the mashed rice, condensed milk and the 2% milk (you may want to whisk the cooked rice in to ensure that there are no lumps). Add the spices, bring to a gentle boil and cook down on a low heat until the consistency of a thick soup. Serve chilled or warm.