Vermicelli Pudding or Payasam (the south Indian term for it) is an Indian dessert typically served on religious occasions or festivities. It is a delicious dessert, when cooked well of course. There was a time in my life when I did not get this pudding right. Every time I tried, it was almost a disaster but my polite guests always ate it and said it was good.
One day I finally had success with my attempt at making Vermicelli Pudding. It was then that I realised my guests were actually just being nice. I had invited 2 of my friends for dinner one day and I made this Vermicelli Pudding as dessert, I thought I did a great job but I could see my friends were struggling to eat it, keeping a straight face. They told me it was delicious but when I tasted it I realised it was actually a disaster. I was totally embarrassed and from that moment on I never attempted it again.
My hubby loves Vermicelli and he insisted I learn to make it well. He couldn’t exactly go to his mum to eat it anymore, we did move miles away from Durban. So after a few more failed attempts I finally got it right. One day I had a light bulb moment and I discovered what I was doing wrong. My vermicelli was actually being overcooked. You see vermicelli is like pasta, it must be cooked al la dente and once the heat is turned off it finishes cooking to a lovely consistency. Frying your vermicelli in the butter ghee from the very start also makes all the difference to the taste.
Vermicelli is a very fine, like angel hair pasta and you can easily overcook it. Most Indian Spice Stores or local supermarkets stocks Vermcelli. Not everyone serves this sweet dish with Papadums but my family loves it. I often serve it this way, the sweet with the savoury is super delicious.
Most people use sugar and some even use a little water when cooking this Vermicelli Pudding but I prefer to use milk and condensed milk to sweeten it.