Today is a very auspicious festival for us Bengalis called Poush ( Makar) Sangkranti which is also celebrated in form of Pongal in South India or Lohri in North India. For us preparation of Nolen Gur ( Date Palm Jaggery) based sweets adds up to the vibrancy of this festival. I rember during my childhood days I used to hide behind the kitchen doors and wait for such sweets be prepared by Mother and Grandmother. Every year we have a two month slot in the season to purchase fresh Nolen Gur . Since in Bangalore we do not get this jaggery, I had it flown from Kolkata thru my Husband's colleague . Believe me friends, during preparation of this payesh, the aroma that was generated was excellent. However, it requires you to be patient , to stir the pot for an hour so as to thicken the milk. Therefore, I recommend that you prepare this payesh during the time you cook for lunch or dinner to be able to keep an eye on it. However, at the end of it when you taste this payesh you would feel that all your effort and patience is well rewarded.
Serves: 5-6, Preparation Time: 1 hour
1 liter Full cream milk
1 cup Palm Date jaggery (khejurer gur), broken into small pieces
1/2 cup Gobindobhog Chal / Kalajeera rice
Wash the rice 2-3 times, drain out the water and keep aside for half an hour. Soak almonds in warm water and peel of the skin and cut into thin stripes.
Pour milk in a heavy bottomed pan and wait till the first boil comes. Add rice, cashews and raisins to the boiling milk on low heat. Now here comes the part which tests your patience, keep stirring intermittently otherwise rice will stick to the bottom of the container. When the rice is cooked and milk reduces to almost half (this process takes about 35-40 minutes) switch off the burner. I did not add jaggery when the milk is on the stove as there is always a risk of cuddle milk. After 5 minutes add date jaggery little by little and with the help of spaluta mix well with the milk until it dissolves fully.
Put it back on the heat again and adjust the sweetness as per your liking. After 5 minutes switch off the gas burner. Transfer it to a serving bowl and serve it with sliced almonds. Let it cool down then refrigerate this payesh for 2-3 hours before serving. This payesh tastes best when served cold.