Sunday, January 13, 2008

Parippu Pradhaman/Payasam to celebrate swimming in crocodile pool!

Over an year ago, I was chatting online with my very close friend LJ and as the habit goes we got into a philosophical mood contemplating on things which we have no control over or discussing about dreams and future ventures or pondering over things which we did not pursue and that day also we chewed over many such aspects and somewhere she reminded me of that story of the rich man and his party around the crocodile pool. Am sure most of you have heard this story where the rich man throws a party at his house around a crocodile pool and somewhere in the middle of the party, he poses a challenge to his invitees asking them to swim across the crocodile pool, to receive a great offer. As everyone stands there astounded, someone jumps into the pool, swims through the pool, wrestling with those crocodiles around and reached the other side and everyone crowds him and asks “How did you do it?” and the guy answers,” Someone pushed me in !!!!!

Almost after two weeks or so, after this chat with LJ, I saw myself in a similar pool but unlike the guy in the story, I knew who pushed me into it, none other than my CJJ who created a BlogSpot for me, when he saw me glued to the monitor, admiring all those food bloggers out there and the creative element embossed in the whole thing and not trying out or cooking any recipes from there. I was not at all confident and had my own doubts about maintaining such a place, especially with my track record of not sticking to any hobby for more than a month or so. But now when I look back, I think that was a very clever move from CJJ’s side, as I saw myself trying more recipes and delicacies and also diverting my creative energy into a humble place like this. But the pool I was pushed into was one of very talented and creative group of bloggers in general, instead of crocodiles :D I went through the initial phase of infatuation, then the obsession, honeymoon period and occasional short breaks and here I am, for the first time in my life, still continuing a hobby I was pushed into a year back!!!!

My very first post, written exactly an year ago, was concluded like this:” I don’t know how far I will be able to sustain this new found interest in blogging but as long as I have a bulldozer behind me, yes my CJJ, I will be sharing some of my experiments from the kitchen...and I start my first one here, raising a toast to my parents, my CJJ and to all of you, my friends !! “ CJJ is still the bulldozer, my technical and photography support, and my family, including the one I married into, have been giving me all the support and help they can and my mother being the main contributor and tip provider of most of my recipes, and my great critic as well; but let me tell you, if I have kept this place for one year, all that credit goes to this gracious and wonderful blogging community around me and each of my readers, who gave me continuous encouragement and showered words of appreciation and lovely feedbacks. I am 101% certain that I would have wrapped up this place long back , had YOU not come back to me with that feedback and support.

It has been a great year, knowing a wonderful community, making a handful of good friends, exploring my interests, polishing my skills, learning about various cuisines and last but not the least, bringing variety to our dining table thanks to all those talented bloggers out there! When food bloggers tickled my palette, my non-food blogger friends made me laugh with their wit and humour. Some of you inspired me …some helped me relax. I may not have seen your faces or listened to your voices, but some out there are very close to my heart and I feel a nice rapport with many of you through the little notes and chats we share through the comment section. Let me admit, there were times I wished some of you were staying close to me in the same town!!!!

I have learnt a lot in the last one year and also I would like to thank all those who have come here, read my stories, shared your stories, appreciated me , gave constructive feedback and moreover, tried the recipes from my humble blog and left feedback here. And for all those anonymous readers and those who gave search for “mishmash beef stew ..mishmash fruit cake…mishmash wedding cookies……mishmash chicken roast…..” , and tried out these recipes, “THANK YOU” :)

Let me wrap up this anniversary post the traditional Kerala style, with a traditional dessert :) Parippu Pradhaman/Payasam is a traditional sweet lentil pudding, served as part of sadya, a grand feast, a vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf, as part of any auspicious occasions like marriage, child-birth, birthday celebrations, house-warming ceremonies or marking any happy occasions in Kerala. This is one of my favourite traditional desserts and at my father’s place, it was prepared in a big Uruli, a wide mouthed bell metal vessel (shown in the pictures) and I remember my aunts stirring it with a Chattukam, a heavy brass spatula and this process is called ”Payasam Verakal/varattal”. The thought of crushing Pappadam (Indian wafers) squishing ripe bananas onto the Pradhaman/payasam served on a banana leaf itself is enough to make my mouth water to sail a ship ! To view a picture of traditional sadya, click here and read more here.

Ingredients for Parippu Pradhaman/Payasam OR Sweet lentil Pudding:
  • ½ cup Cherupayar parippu/split Moong dal/ dried yellow split dal of green gram
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup melted and filtered black/brown Sharkkara/jaggery, medium-thick consistency
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk/Monnaampaal
  • ½ cup semi-thick coconut milk/Randaampaal
  • ½ cup thick coconut milk/Thanipaal
  • 1tbsp ghee + 1 ½ tbsp ghee
  • A handful of cashew nuts
  • A handful of thin & small coconut slices/Thangakothu
  • 3 whole cardamoms crushed
  • A small pinch of salt
  1. Heat a pressure cooker and dry roast the Cherupayar parippu/Moong dal/dried yellow split dal, till it is hot to touch and add 1 ½ cups of water and cook till it is soft. (Note: You may use your convenient method to cook dal)
  2. Once the steam and the sizzling sound goes off, open the cooker and mash the dal with the back of a spoon, to the consistency of a baby food.
  3. Heat a big saucepan/Kadai or Uruli; add the mashed dal and the melted and filtered sharkkara/jaggery together, with a small pinch of salt, in low heat, till it turns into a thick and almost dry consistency. You need to keep stirring to avoid this mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan. When it reaches the required consistency, add a tablespoon of ghee and blend everything together and turn off the stove. (Note: At this stage , once it cools down and comes to room temperature, you can refrigerate the whole thing for a long time, even up to an year; but please keep in mind that its refrigeration life depends on how well you have “varatti/veraki”- the dal, meaning how well you have made the dal+jaggery mixture into a thick and almost dry consistency)
  4. At this stage, add a cup of thin coconut milk/Monnaampaal, stir well and then let it boil, in low heat. When it is boiling add the ½ cup semi-thick coconut milk/Randaampaal and bring it to a boil and when it is boiling fully, pour the ½ cup thick coconut milk/Thanipaal and again bring it to a boil; add the crushed cardamoms , stir well and then switch off the stove.
  5. In another small pan, heat 1½ tbsp ghee and fry some broken cashews and keep aside; fry some small coconut slices/Thangakothu, till its turns golden brown in colour and pour everything, both the broken cashews and coconut slices, including the leftover ghee to the Payasam/Pradhaman and serve warm after 30 minutes.
Note: Parippu Pradhaman/Payasam has a general tendency to thicken once it rests for sometime and hence, even-though the Pradhaman/Payasam may look more liquid-y at the end of the preparation, the 30 minutes resting window is enough to get its semi-thick consistency. Also note that the taste of the Pradhaman/Payasam is purely dependent on the Sharkkara/jaggery – coconut milk proportion and hence go generous on the latter but use jaggery according to your sweet tolerance. Coconut milk is a significant ingredient in enhancing the taste. The above measurement is as per our family’s taste preferences; feel free to adjust the proportions. This tastes better if you are using freshly squeezed coconut milk but canned coconut milk, diluted with water, is also good. Also, I used canned coconut milk and hence those who are using freshly extracted coconut-milk, should be going for more quantity as the consistency differs; hence make changes accordingly as coconut-milk is the taste enhancer here. Adjust the number of crushed cardamoms based on its strength. Some home grown ones are quite strong. As I noted earlier, you can stop at the third stage and refrigerate it for a long time and complete the 4th & 5th steps when it is needed. Again the colour of the payasam is dependent on the colour of the sharkkara/jaggery you use; so make sure that it has that rich dark brown colour.

I wish this post was more than a virtual one to share a cup of Parippu Pradhaman/Payasam with you all !

This goes to RCI-Kerala, hosted at Currybazaar and Susan’s My Legume Love affair.

I know this was a mile long post, but those who know me got it right, “yeah….I cant help it!” :)

UPDATE: For Sadya recipes check out SADYA VIBHAVANGAL - Learn to make the traditional Kerala Feast- An Artist’s Edible Palette !


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