In India and other countries of the Indian Subcontinent, vermicelli is known by various local names. In Bengali, we call it shemai/semai. Vermicelli is used in a number of dishes including a sweet dessert, made in a similar way as of rice pudding. Upma is also made with vermicelli in many parts of India, adding various vegetables to it. Semai Payesh/kheer is not an authentic Bengali dish as of Chaler Payesh/Rice Kheer. It may have started as an experimental alternative to Rice Kheer, which gradually may have been accepted as a much loved homemade dessert.
I remember Shemai er Payesh was welcomed in our home when I was in High School and my brother much younger. I had always been a food lover but my brother had always been choosy. Hence, mom tried to bring in variety in food. We accepted it as a good dessert option and then it continued to be prepared on a regular basis at home. It takes less time to prepare than the rice kheer, ingredients been more or less same. Let us proceed with the recipe.
SEMAI[VERMICELLI] : 1/2 medium cup
MILK[FULL CREAM] : 1lt
SUGAR : 1medium cup[or as per your taste]
CASHEW : 8-10[halved]
RAISIN : 10-15
GREEN CARDAMOM : 2-3
BAYLEAF : 1
ROSEWATER : 3-4 drops.
GHEE : 1/2tsp
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel and put for boil. Add the bayleaf.
In a wok, heat the ghee. Add the cashews, saute for half a minute and keep aside. Add the vermicelli and fry in ghee until light brown. Keep aside. Soak the raisin in water for an hour, drain the water.
Let the milk boil till it reduces to 500ml. Add the sugar and let boil for another 5-7 minutes. Stir continuously.
Add the vermicelli, raisins, cashews and lightly crushed green cardamom. Let boil for 3-4 minutes. Add the rosewater, stir and switch off.
Once cool refrigerate and serve chilled!!