Payasam is an integral part of any sadhya/feast. When it comes to Onasadhya, the payasam has to be something special. Pradhaaman is considered the king of payasams and is a Kerala speciality. In the land of coconuts, its no wonder that the earlier generations made use of bountiful of coconuts. Milk, in those days, was not available in packets and no refrigerators to increase the shelf life. But now things have changed. Both milk and coconut milk are available in plenty, in ready to use tetra-packs. So making payasam is not that difficult. When it comes to coconut milk, the freshly squeezed milk is any day better than the store bought ones. With the mixer grinders, extracting milk is not that difficult job either. The basic ingredients for a pradhaman is a main ingredient - rice/chakka varatti/dal/wheat, jaggery, coconut milk - in various thickness. Having said that, the main ingredient determines the taste of the pradhaman and I assure you, each is unique in its taste and there is no way to compare them. This Onam, it was kadalaprauppu/chana dal pradhaman.
I missed the festive atmosphere in Kerala. Also the fresh flowers from garden for the pookalam. Here is the small pookalam made on the Onam day.
And this is the Onasadhya we had - Menu included Parikkai/Bitter gourd thayir pachadi, kaalan, aviyal, elissery, thoran, chips, sharkkaravaratti upperi, pappadam, payasam, sambhar.
- Chana dal/Bengal gram dal/Kadalaparuppu - 1/2 cup
- Powdered jaggery - 1 cup, heaped
- Coconut - 2 medium sized
- Cardamom powder - 1/2 tspn
- Coconut bits - 1 tblspn
- Ghee - 2 tspn
Wash and pressure cook the dal till its well cooked. After the cooker is opened, lightly mash the cooked dal. See to that it doesn't end up in a paste form. We need few bits of the dal to give some texture to the pradhaman.
Grate the coconut and grind it in the mixer using very little water. Take the ground coconut on to a cheese cloth. Squeeze the ground coconut to extract the milk. This is the first, thick milk. Repeat this for two more times to extract the second and third milk. We need 3/4 cup of first milk, 1 1/2 cups of second milk and 2 cups of third milk.
Take the jaggery with half cup of water in a bottom thick vesssel or kadai. When the jaggery melts fully, filter it to remove any impurities. To the filtered jaggery syrup, add the mashed dal and thin, lastly squeezed out coconut milk. Cook this mixture, till it thickens. Then add the second coconut milk extract and continue to cook till it thickens again. By this time, the dal and jaggery mix would have absorbed the coconut milk well. Bring the mix to a boil. Add the first extract of coconut milk and switch off the heat. Keep stirring for 5 minutes, till its blended well. Stir in the cardamom powder.
Heat ghee in a seasoning ladle. Add the coconut bits. Saute till it starts browning. Add it to the prepared pradhaman. Serve it warm.