I have always felt jaggery based sweets are more traditional… might be because special occasions are marked by those made of jaggery. Pongal is celebrated with sarkkarai pongal which is sweetened by jaggery. Diwali though not a traditional tamil festival, is marked by adhirasam which is again made of jaggery. Or more so because, in today’s world everyone prefers making the comparatively easier sugar based sweets to the time-consuming jaggery based sweets.
Adai pradhaman is one such sweet. Though it is more popular as a kerala payasam or kheer, the people of tirunelveli district of tamilnadu, having proximity geographically to kerala also prepare this payasam. When we were young, adai – flakes of cooked rice – the base of this payasam was not available in shops in chennai. My grandmother used to send from tirunelveli where it was made in bulk. In kerala, it is made fresh for the payasam. Nowadays it is very easily available in packets in most of the indian shops even if we live abroad.
Till today, I believe adai pradhaman is the most heavenly and divinely of all payasams! The smell of adai or flakes of cooked rice, cooked in jaggery, and coconut milk added slowly would travel around the house… not to leave the cashewnuts fried in ghee poured on top of it. Another payasam to come close to this would be paasi paruppu payasam/ dehusked green gram (moong dhal) payasam (recipe shortly).
Unlike Kerala where adai pradhaman is a festival sweet, in tamilnadu or more specifically tirunelveli, it is prepared for guests and special occasions. Sometimes it used to be a sunday special and I used to be so delighted to have tirunelveli special in chennai! Now to the recipe..
This recipe needs thin – 3rd milk, medium thick – 2nd milk and creamy thick – 1st milk of coconut to be added gradually in the rice flakes cooked in jaggery. Here, I have minimised work by using canned coconut milk.
- adai/flakes of cooked rice – 200 gms
- vellam/jaggery – 400 gms
- coconut milk – 1 can – 200 gms
- ghee – 2 tbsp
- cashewnuts – 12 no. halved
- cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
- dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
the humble Nut
palm jaggery might give a darker colour to the payasam
jaggery might have impurities
Method of Preparation
- Boil water in a big utensil
- Always add adai to boiling water as these flakes might stick to the bottom of the utensil if water is cold
- Adai should be completely immersed in water and there should be enough water to cook the adai
- When it is cooked soft, drain and wash in cold water
- In a separate pan, take jaggery and 1 cup of water
- When jaggery is melted, filter it
- Cook adai in filtered jaggery in a hard bottomed wide cooking pan
- After about seven minutes add half the canned coconut milk
- Simmer for five minutes. If the payasam tends to thicken, little water can be added to adjust the consistency. This thickening might be due to the thick canned milk. Mostly this doesn’t happen when thin and medium thick 3rd or 2nd milk is gradually added
- Add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder and mix well
- Now add the remaining coconut milk and let it cook for another five minutes
- Payasam is done. Turn off the stove
- Fry cashewnuts till golden brown in ghee and pour it on the adai pradhaman
- Tastes best when served on a banana leaf. Tackle it with all five fingers and palm to send it to the taste buds of the tongue.