Last week’s Quiz question: What is the dominant flavour in this drink? Okay, it’s not a “drink”, but you can drink it if you want to.
Pradhaman is usually prepared with lentils, or fruit like plantain, mango and ripe jackfruit. The only exception is Palada Pradhaman, which is made of rice, sugar, and dried rice flakes or ada. Why this variety of payasam is called “pradhaman” is a mystery to us. Any insights are appreciated.
Every family from Kerala has two camps – the payasam camp, and the pradhaman camp. Most festivals feature both, but it all depends on personal preference. It’s like asking someone if they prefer Aishwarya Rai or Sushmita Sen, Hrithik Roshan or John Abraham. The fair, cute type or the sultry, smouldering type ??
Ash or Sush? Jai can’t decide who he likes more.
AHrithik or John? Bee will have John with chocolate sauce, please.
Jai loves both, but chakka pradhaman is his favourite Indian dessert. Bee prefers pradhaman to payasam. Palada Pradhaman, however, is the one milk-based dessert she truly loves. That’s probably why this milky payasam is called ‘pradhaman’, ‘cos it’s head and shoulders above the other payasams.
Jackfruit (chakka) pradhaman is usually made with chakka varatti (Jackfruit jam). In summer, people in Kerala cook down ripe jackfruit with ghee and jaggery to a thick paste. It involves over an hour of stirring in a heavy bronze vessel called uruli that can withstand the high temperature. This paste can be preserved for more than a year, until the next jackfruit season. It is kept in a ceramic jar (bharani) so as not to alter the taste.
At regular intervals during the year, some of this jackfruit jam is diluted with coconut milk. More ghee and jaggery are added to create the sublime chakka pradhaman. It is then garnished with nuts, raisins, and pieces of fried coconut.
In the past we’ve always prepared chakka pradhaman with chakka varatti, when a family member or friend sent it to us. One of the best surprises we received was when our friend Meera sent us some in the mail a few years ago. We’ve known her for a while, and she’s an angel.
This time, we prepared pradhaman from canned ripe jackfruit. It took only 2 tbsps. ghee, around 30 minutes, and was absolutely delectable. We’ve resolved to make this more often. Both of us rank this as our absolute favourite Indian dessert.
Pradhaman is the perfect vegan dessert as ghee can be substituted with transfat-free margarine.
Two 20-oz. cans of ripe jackfruit in syrup (or 3.5 cups chopped fresh ripe jackfruit)
One 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk (or 2.25 cups fresh)
1.25 cups of powdered jaggery (1.5 cups if using fresh jackfruit)
3 cardamom pods
pinch of salt
2 tbsps transfat free margarine (or ghee)
10 broken cashews
2 tbsps coconut pieces
1. Drain the jackfruit, preserve the syrup, chop the jackfruit pieces, and puree it to a fine paste.
2. Add one tablespoon of ghee and a tablepoon or two of water. Mix well and cook the jackfruit paste on the stove top, or microwave on HIGH partially covered for 8-9 minutes.
3. While the jackfruit is cooking, bring the jackfruit syrup and jaggery to a boil on medium flame with the salt. If using fresh jackfruit, add 3/4 cup of water to the jaggery.
4. Skim off any foam or impurities floating at the top of the jaggery. Add the cooked jackfruit pulp to the jaggery, and let the whole mix boil on medium for another 10 minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk, whisk to blend well, and taste for sweetness. If you want it sweeter, add more jaggery. If you want it less sweet, add more coconut milk. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Do not let it boil. The coconut milk may separate.
6. Take the pradhaman off the fire. Shell the cardamoms, powder them, add them to the dish. Fry the cashews in the remaining ghee until they turn golden. Separately, fry the coconut pieces until toasted. Add these to the pradhaman, and enjoy it warm (that’s the way we like it) or cold.
Our entry for Jihva for Ingredients – Jackfruit.