Semiya payasam is typically done by boiling semiya (vermicelli), sugar, milk and topped with nuts. I think it is best to limit sugar and grains in our desserts. So, I wanted to upgrade this recipe to make it low carb and less sugary than the traditional recipe.
Use spaghetti squash instead of semiya:
1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash only has 42 calories. That’s pretty low!!
Use dates instead of sugar to sweeten the payasam:
2 reasons :
The standard reason – Dates will provide fiber and other minerals that white sugar does not provide.
Another side reason – Dates will add creaminess and thickness to the liquid while also sweetening it. So, you don’t have to reduce the milk a lot, or add evaporated milk, or condensed milk, etc to make it a thick, saucy consistency. The more you reduce your milk, the more calorie-rich your payasam becomes. Dates can help you avoid that.
Thinly sliced nuts instead of chopped nuts:
I used thinly sliced almonds for crunch. These will give you more crunch per bite and less calories than having to scatter whole nuts in the payasam. Not a big deal, but these minor details count if you are looking for smart swaps.
No ghee to roast the nuts:
All we need is for the nuts to get crunchy. In the stove, you may burn the nuts without ghee due to direct heat. But the convectional nature of the oven helps you roast and crisp the nuts in the oven without any fat added. (It always bothered me when I would watch shows where they would dump 2 large tablespoons of ghee to roast a handful of nuts and dump the sizzling mixture into the payasam with fat globules just floating on top.)
Use butter instead of ghee:
To saute the spaghetti squash, use butter instead of ghee. Ghee is basically butter with 20% the moisture removed. Ghee is popular mainly because it can be stored at room temperature without spoiling. But, if you have a refrigerator, why not use butter, that has less fat density than ghee, to lubricate your pan? Just another smart swap!!
Use plant-based milk:
I used coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. You can also use almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, etc. In the US, vegan beverages are fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D, making it very easy to substitute cow’s milk. However, it may not be the case everywhere. Choose the milk that fits your family’s needs.
Upgraded Semiya Payasam (an Indian Porridge) Recipe
Spaghetti Squash – 3 cups cooked and separated
Dates – 1 cup (about 15 dates)
Elaichi powder (Cardamom) – 1/2 tsp
Sliced Almonds – 1/4 cup
Butter – 1oz
Vanilla flavored coconut milk – 2 cups (If not available, use any kind of milk)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut Spaghetti Squash into 2 halves and scoop out seeds.
Place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan and place it in the oven.
Roast for 50 min.
Take tray out and place it to cool. Rake your fork through the squash and pull out the strands.
Place sliced almonds in oven and roast for 10 minutes to develop a slightly browned crunch.
Grind dates with the milk. If the dates available in your country is hard, soak them overnight or boil them in hot milk to get it soft and then grind with the milk.
Melt 1oz butter in a pan and lightly roast the spaghetti squash on low-medium heat.
Add 1/2 tsp elaichi powder.
Pour the date-milk blended liquid to the squash. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, you can turn it off and add the sliced almonds. Reserve some almonds to top off individual cups before serving.
Ta-da!! Upgraded Semiya payasam ready.
Step by step photos
- Get Spaghetti Squash ready in the oven
2) Get toasted almonds ready
3) Get the date sweetened creamy milk ready
4) Roast squash in butter, add elaichi, date sweetened milk and nuts
If you need more information on cooking spaghetti squash, try this link for detailed information. One word of advice, do not cook the squash too long, otherwise the strands will disintegrate into the cooking liquid.
The spaghetti squash is a squashy-flavored vegetable. However, a generous sprinkle of elaichi and vanilla flavored milk completely masks its original taste. So, be sure to add aromatics generously.
If you are skeptical, and still thinking, “Really, Swetha!! A squash instead of vermicelli?”, I completely understand. But, I have listed my issues (in this report ) with South Indians eating heavy carb-rich meals followed by a heavy carb dessert. So, try this lower carb version instead. You may be surprised at how often you will buy and use Spaghetti squash in your house after this!!
I eagerly await your flood of comments, feedback and suggestions :).