Paruthi paal is a cottonseed milk dessert popular in the villages near Madurai, my home town. People, esp. the villagers, prepare a nutritious dessert using cottonseed milk, a traditional vegan milk. As a part of my college education, I served as an NSS (National Service Scheme) volunteer. We used to camp in the surrounding villages during summer vacation to understand the living conditions of the people and also help them improve their standard of living. We were always greeted with a glass of delicious paruthi paal in almost every household in those villages. Normally they used to grind a large quantity of cottonseeds everyday and used as a fodder feed particularly to milking cows. Apparently cottonseed milk is beneficial to lactating mothers as well. Others consume this dessert during summer to keep them cool.
Health benefits of cottonseed milk:
According Ayurveda cottonseeds have the following properties:
- Sheeta (body coolant)
- Sthanyavriddhi (increases lactation)
- Hrudbala karini (heart tonic)
- Vatanashini (treats vata imbalance)
- Kaphakara (increases kapha)
Before moving onto the recipe for paruthi paal payasam, lets see how cottonseeds milk is extracted. I used 1 cup (200 ml) of seeds and extracted 400 ml of thick milk and 400 ml of thin milk.
- Wash & soak cottonseeds overnight.
- Discard the soaking water and grind seeds into smooth batter after adding enough water.
- Pour the batter through a fine sieve and squeeze thick milk out.
- Take the remains back to the grinding jar and grind again to squeeze thin milk out.
- Discard the waste and pour the milk again through a sieve to remove the residue.
Paruthi paal recipe:
Here I have used the whole foxtail millets (thinai arisi) to prepare payasam, but the authentic recipe calls for millet flour (thinai maavu) as a thickening agent. They prepare this dessert in a thin koozh (porridge) like consistency and serve as a beverage.
Time taken: 30 min.
Yields: 800 ml
- Foxtail millet (thinai) – ¼ cup
- Powdered palm jaggery (karuppatti) – little more than ¼ cup*
- Thick cottonseed milk – 200 ml
- Thin cotton seed milk – 400 ml
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Coconut – 5 pieces (each 1″)
- Dried ginger – 1 No. (½”)
- Cardamom – 1 No.
*Cottonseed milk is not so sweet as coconut milk, but it is mildly bitter like soy milk. So we may have to add the sweetener generously to mask its earthen flavor.
Mise en place:
- Crush the cardamom seeds & dried ginger using mortar & pestle and leave the spice powder aside.
- Heat a small pan with ghee in medium flame.
- Fry the chopped coconut pieces in ghee and remove from pan.
- Heat a sauce pan with thin cottonseed milk in medium flame.
- Add powdered palm jaggery into the milk.
- Remove from flame when jaggery is completely dissolved.
How to prepare paruthi paal:
- Boil millets in a cooking pan in high flame.
- When the water begins to boil reduce the flame to medium.
- Pour thin cottonseed milk into the pan and cook until soft.
- Now turn off the heat and mash cooked millets using a potato masher.
- Stir in jaggery syrup and cook for a couple of minutes in low flame.
- Sprinkle the spice powder into the payasam and mix well.
- Stir in thick cottonseed milk (200 ml) until incorporated.
- Add fried coconut pieces into the pan and mix well.
- Remove from heat.
- Serve paruthi paal warm or chilled.