Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kadala Pradaman, an Onam affair...

Onam is the largest festival of Kerala, the southern state of India, which is celebrated by every Malayalee regardless of religion, caste or culture. It marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali who ruled Kerala a long time ago. Onam falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug/Sept). During this festive day, the ladies drape themselves in settu mundu/saree and gents in kasavu mundu. The celebrations starts with laying down the pookalam (floral carpet) followed by lavish feast sadhya with almost 20 different dishes which is served on the plantain leaf. Celebrating Onam also includes many games. This is also a time when all the family get-together and celebrate.

Its been a long time since I celebrated Onam with my family. Being away from Kerala, this is something you miss out. But the celebration is no less here in US. I think its celebrated in much larger scale than back home. Every year we have many Onam celebrations, with our relatives and friends. This year we have 4 different Onam celebrations, 2 are done and 2 more to go.

One of the celebrations was organized by NJ Malayalees. This is a group formed by few close friends and every year they come together to celebrate Onam. We were also invited to this celebration. The programs included pookalam, sadhya, tiruvathira (traditional dance), songs, skit and games. The sadhya was potluck, each member had to choose a dish. Sadhya was excellent and each dish was delicious. My share in the sadhya was the dessert, Kadala Pradaman (chana dal pudding / payasam). Here is the recipe.

Kadala Pradaman

Making a pradaman in US is much easier when compared to back home. My mom is a payasam specialist and she uses the fresh coconut milk to prepare. The tedious part would be grating the coconuts and squeezing the milk out. But here I use the ready made coconut milk, which makes it much easier. If you are looking forward to try this recipe, my advice is to use the canned coconut milk rather than the powder.

This recipe will serve about 25 nos. I made double this count.


Chana Dal -  2.5 cups
Jaggery - 500 grams (approx 1 pack)
Coconut milk - 3 cans
Ghee - 1/2 cup
Cardamom - 4 - 5 nos
Cashew nuts - 1/2 cup
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Coconuts cut into small pieces - 1/2 cup

- Pressure cook the chana dal with enough water. Cook it till just 1 whistle and keep it until the pressure is all gone. It should be just cooked well to the right consistency, do not smash it. If there is excess water, drain all the water and keep it aside.
- In a vessel take the jaggery and fill it 3/4th water. Keep the vessel in heat and let the jaggery melt. Don't let the syrup boil, take it off the heat once the jaggery has melted completely. Strain the syrup into another bowl and keep it aside.
- In a pan add 2 tbspn ghee and fry the cashew nuts, raisins and coconut pieces separately. Keep it aside.
-Heat 4 tbspn ghee in a heavy bottom pan/pot. Add the cooked chana dal and stir it until its dry and has mixed well with the ghee.
- To this add the jaggery syrup, 1/2 cup at a time. Each time the syrup is added keep stirring continuously. Keep the heat in medium so that the chana is not burnt. This should become a thick consistency. You can limit the syrup depending on how sweet you need the pradaman to be.
- Mix one and half can of coconut milk with equal amount of water. Add this to the chana-jaggery mixture still on heat. Keep stirring.
- Crush the cardamoms and add this to the mixture. Add fried cashew nuts and raisins.
- Once it boils, lower the heat and add the remaining thick coconut milk. Make sure that no water is added at this time. Mix well. Leave it on heat for 2-3 mins.

The pradaman is ready to be served. It tastes great when served on the plantain leaf with banana. I did have mine in the same way. Now the secret to a better tasting pradaman depends on how long you stir the jaggery- chana mixture. I did mine for almost an hour and that definitely made my pradaman yummy. Back home my mom's assistant is my dad for stirring the pradaman since that is the most tedious job.

I hope you guys try this one. Be back soon with more cakes and recipes...