Enjoy the first spoonful of this vegan rice kheer and let me promise you won’t be able to put your spoon down, Check out this chathachatayam payasam that is made during shastha preethi.
The last time my cousin visited we has some temple payasam that my parents had sent. This sparked a lovely conversation about the flavours of payasams that are so unique to certain groups in Kerala. Once they left, the topic continued brewing in my mind and the one I couldn’t shake off thoughts about was the chathachathayam.
What is chathachathayam?
Chathathachathayam or sadachathayam is a delicious Tambaram style dessert. Served as an offering during Shastha preethi or at special occasions like Onam or sadabhishekam in smaller groups this payasam is a very endemic style of cooking. The name suggests the pounding of the coconut and the language is a mix of Tamil and Malayalam. In this unique way, the rice is cooked in coconut milk instead of regular milk which is extracted by the crushing of the coconut. This vegan rice kheer is a must-try for all culinary enthusiasts. Fairly easy to master for a seasoned cook, the chathachathayam is always served hot on the banana leaf sadhya.
Origins of shastha preethi
Appeasing the God Ayyapa often happens as Shabhari malayathra, Ayyapan pooja or Shastha preethi. Shashta preethi is a communal gathering with songs and a variety of offerings that culminates in food distribution or Annadhanam. The practice is said to have originated with the Tamils who migrated to Kerala from Kallaidukurchi. These migrants believed that the divine power of lord Ayyappa accompanied them during their tough journey and the hardships of settlement. When slightly settled they started forming groups or samoohams that once a year gather together contributing to serving a day in prayer and receiving food as blessings. The chathachathayam payasam is there symbolic of this fusion and prosperity.
Ingredients for this chathachatayam payasam
As for the ingredients, this is a fairly simple payasam.
Rice: raw red rice is the best to make this payasam. Often called unakkalari, this is just the red raw rice dried and not matta rice. In this rice, the bran is not fully encasing the grains rather giving it a variegated rose colour. This cook to a soft texture easily.
Jaggery: the solidified sugar cane juice is jaggery. This is marketed as conical-shaped blocks. This is less intense than sugar and provides that deep brown colour to the payasam. Saying that there is light and dark jaggery. The difference is only the colour in which the jaggery condensed. The colour you choose will translate to the end colour of the payasam. I have chosen darker jaggery here.
Coconut milk: this is the time taking part in this payasam. The white part of the coconut is grated and blend this with a cup of water to make a smooth paste. Strain it with a clean muslin cloth. Extract the first press and set it aside. Now add 3 cups of water and blend again. Strain and use this first to add to the payasam.
Plantain banana: a small portion of plantain banana is chopped and added at the end of making the payasam and the heat cooks it gently infusing the flavours into the payasam.
Nuts and raisins: This is not a usual part of the chathachatayam, but I added it to entice my kids to try it.
Let’s make chathachathayam
The recipe card below carries the step-by-step details of making this payasam. However, this time I forgot to take pictures of making it so will do it another time.
- instant pot
for jaggery syrup
- 1 cup jaggery
- 1.5 cups drinking water
To cook the rice
- 1/4 cup Raw rice red bran ones
- 2 cups coconut milk thin
- 1 cup drinking water
to complete the payasam
- 1/2 cup coconut milk thick, first extract.
- 1/4 cup plantain bananas chopped fine.
To get coconut milk
- Extract the thick coconut milk by grinding a cup od grated coconur with a cup o water and straing it.
- Set this aside.
- To the remaining coconut add 2 cups of water and blend again.
- Strain this to get the thin coconut milk.
To cook the rice
- Wash and add the rice to the instant pot.
- Add the thin coconut milk and the water and cook the rice of rice setting.
To make the jaggery syrup
- Crush teh jaggery cubes.
- Measure one cup and add one cup water to it and set on low heat.
- Stir from time to time so the jaggery dissolves.
- When the syrup starts boiling, a bit of the impurities start floating.
- Remove these and let the syrup boil till just a good bubbling.
- Remove and strain the strup to remove any particles that sediment.
To make the payasam.
- Once the pressure releases, open the rice and fluff it a bit.
- Add the jaggery syrup to the cooked rice.
- Mix well and let this cook for a bit.
- Once it has boiled together and the jaggery syrup combined well, add the thick extract of coconut milk, chopped plantain and mix well.
- Turn off the cooking mode and keep this payasam covered for 10 minutes for flavours to blend together.
- After 10 minutes the payasam is ready to serve.
Cheats ways to vegan rice kheer
The effort of making the payasam lies in making the coconut milk. So cutting down this will directly reduce the effort of making this payasam. So you can start with store-bought coconut milk. Remove the top cream with a tablespoon or so and then thin out the rest to make the volume for the payasam.
Serving ideas for this vegan rice kheer
On a banana leaf, after a sadhya is when the chathachathayam tastes the best, this is a wholesome sadhya. However, you can make this along with the Naivedyam thali for Deepavali, Navratri or Ganesh chathurthi. As such the payasam is lovely to have after a lighter meal so hope you enjoy this warm payasam.
Storing chathachathayam payasam
In the refrigerator, the payasam stays good for up to two days but I won’t keep it for long as repeated heating and thawing will split the coconut milk store in an airtight food-safe container.
Unique tambhram recipes
Having grown up in s tambharm household these recipes were our everyday food. Here are some that we managed to put in a post.
Maanga vattal kozhambu
Though a religious meal dessert the chathachathayam is a gentle vegan rice kheer. When you try out this recipe let us know how it turned out. Rate the recipe in the comments so we know your expectations.
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Slurp the payasam and see you at the next post.