Despite being part of a culinary tradition that has very little to offer in terms of sweet dishes, Pradhaman has done well for itself in Kerala’s gastronomic landscape. Pradhamans are a kind of payasam or payasa (the south Indian version of a north Indian kheer) either made with milk or coconut milk.
A versatile sweet from Kerala
Conventionally, a Pradhaman is made with dal or thin rice cakes. With milk or coconut milk as the base, depending on the kind of Pradhaman, either jaggery or sugar is used. That said, Pradhaman is also very versatile. You can make Pradhaman with a whole lot of ingredients including seasonal fruits. Kerala homes make Pradhaman out of jackfruit, banana, mango and even pineapple.
Among all Pradhamans, Palada Pradhaman has a special place for a Malayali. And when it comes to having original mouthwatering Palada Pradhaman, all roads lead to one place—Vinayaka Caterers.
Vinayaka Caterers in Kadavanthara, Kochi, has been around since 1992, catering to wedding feasts and other celebrations. But they devote particular emphasis to their Palada Pradhaman that has truly broken barriers of culinary excellence.
Meet the Palada Pradhaman
Pink in colour and smooth in texture, patrons say Vinayaka Caterers always gets the silky texture of the Pradhaman right. How do they do it? But before we find an answer to that, what is Palada Pradhaman and what makes it so special? Palada Pradhaman is made with rice cakes or ‘ada’ which is rice flour steamed and cut into small, thin cubes. These adas are then boiled with milk and sugar into a certain consistency to make Palada Pradhaman. When the rice cakes boil in the milk, the reduction, along with sugar, gives the pradhaman a rich thickness.
These days, ready-to-use adas or rice cakes are available in the market which can be boiled with milk to make Palada Pradhaman at home. But the real taste of this Pradhaman lies in making the rice cake from the scratch. And that’s where Vinayaka scores. At first, rice is dried and ground to a fine powder. This powder is mixed well with ghee to form a dough that is spread thinly on banana leaves and then steamed.
“We grind rice and make cakes. Milk is boiled till it is thick, and then ada and sugar are added,” says Vijay Kumar, manager, Vinayaka Caterers. The slow cooking imparts a faint pink colour to the Pradhaman. “No preservatives are added and you can store it in the refrigerator for four to five days,” he adds. That is if you don’t already polish it off in one go!