Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rice Pradhaman (Rice Pudding With Coconut Milk)

Pradhaman (translates as chief or first) is a traditional and delightful Kerala dessert and a small portion is always served to be eaten first at any banquet - a welcome preview of what is to come! There are many types of pradhamans in which the star ingredients may be rice or rice products, dals, or fruits such as jack-fruits or plantains; all are typically made with jaggery and coconut milk and are porridge-like - a bit soupy.

This pradhaman is also called "idichu pizhinja payasam" as freshly grated coconut is "pounded and squeezed" to extract the milk.  I have given the option of canned coconut milk to make it easier.

Some families flavor the pradhaman simply with dried ginger only and the toasted coconut; others like to add cardamoms and cashews. Try both and decide for yourself.

It is important to stir regularly so that the pradhaman does not stick or burn.

This is a gluten and dairy free and fat free too if the ghee is omited. If you like, use coconut oil sparingly to toast the coconut and cashews or dry roast them without any oils for a vegan dessert.

6-8 Servings


1/2 cup Rice
2 Tbsp Chana or Mung dal (optional)
1 cup Jaggery or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 coconut, grated OR 1 can (~2 cups) Coconut Milk
1 tsp ground Dried Ginger (Chukku) OR 5 pods Cardamom
1 tiny pinch Saffron (Optional)
2 Tbsp Ghee (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh Coconut, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup Cashews (optional)
1/4 cup Raisins (Optional)
1 or 2 Ripe Bananas/plantains, finely chopped (optional)                        


Dry toast the dal (if using)  just until fragrant; let cool.

Wash the rice and dal together and add to a large heavy-bottomed pot with 2 cups of water; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently until soft.

Grind the grated coconut with a cup of water; squeeze to extract all the milk and set aside this milk as milk #1.

Add a cup of water to the coconut grind again and extract the milk - set aside as #2.

Repeat grinding and extracting the coconut milk with a last cup of water - set aside as #3.

When the liquid is absorbed by the rice, add the coconut milk #3 and bring to a boil and simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

Stir in milk #2 and the jaggery/brown sugar and let it dissolve; bring to a boil again and simmer gently stirring often for about 15 minutes.

Add the coconut milk #1 and heat until hot but not boiling.  Remove from heat and cover.

Add the dry ginger OR the cardamom mixture. {Crush the cardamom pods, gather the seeds (discard the pods), and grind the seeds well with saffron and a pinch of sugar into a fine powder and sprinkle the spices on top.} Stir well and keep covered.

Heat the ghee if using in a small pan and toast the cashews until pale pink; add the coconut pieces and cook until pale gold; now stir in the raisins and cook until beginning to puff up a little.

Stir the nut mixture into the pradhaman; stir in the chopped bananas and serve hot, warm or cool.


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