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Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Back Burner: A creamy, delicious coconut-milk dessert from Kerala

Parippu pradhaman is a kheer-like dessert made from a mix of moong dal and chana dal in a coconut milk and jaggery base

Written by Pooja Pillai | New Delhi |
Updated: July 4, 2020 9:06:56 pm
dessert recipe, pradhaman recipe, payasam, pradhaman, parippu pradhaman, Kerala recipes, coconut recipes Parippu Pradhaman can be had hot, at room temperature or chilled – it’s tasty any way. (Photo: Pooja Pillai; design: Gargi Singh)

Confession: the only reason I made today’s dish is because I needed to give something to the neighbours. Let me back up a bit. This began a couple of months ago, when my friend and flatmate N made some yakhni pulao which was so good that we wanted to share it with other people. But as the lockdown was in effect, there was no way any of our friends could come over as they might otherwise have done. So we gave some to the next door neighbours with whom, until then, our relations had been of the “nod-head-when-meet” variety.

Things warmed up pretty quickly after that. In response to our yakhni pulao, they gave us some chicken curry, after which we gave them some shrikhand and then they gave us some cake, brownies and aam ki launji. With this last installment, we ended up with one of their serving bowls and since it’s discourteous to return a bowl empty (as per the rules that we were brought up with), I fretted. Finally, I decided to make parippu pradhaman, a Kerala dessert and one of my favourites.

Malayalis make two kinds of kheer-like desserts — payasam and pradhaman. Payasam is closer to kheer in that its base is milk and sugar, whereas pradhaman’s base is coconut milk and jaggery (so it’s a good vegan dessert, if you can replace the ghee in the recipe with oil).

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Parippu means lentils in Malayalam and the lentils we’re using here is a mix of hulled and split moong dal and chana dal (technically, neither is a lentil, although they’re both pulses). You can use just one of these also, to make this dessert. Also, while most recipes will tell you that it’s best to make the coconut milk by hand, I find the task both tedious and not necessarily that rewarding in terms of taste. My (possibly controversial) opinion is that such insistence usually comes from men who, typically, DO NOT slave for hours in the kitchen to make food for their families and it’s perfectly OK to ignore all those who complain about how the “packaged stuff can never taste as good as the homemade stuff”. For better or for worse, we have packaged replacements for a lot of things that were once made at home and if you find it convenient to use them, please do. I use packaged pastes, masalas etc very frequently, because, believe it or not, I have a life outside of cooking.

And if you really want to make coconut milk at home, please do that. There are plenty of videos online to guide you.

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1 cup – Hulled and split moong dal, washed and dried
1 tbsp – Chana dal, washed and dried
½ cup ghee – coconut oil can be substituted
200 gm – Coconut milk
1 cup – Jaggery, grated
4-5 – Green cardamoms
½ cup – Mixed nuts, including coconut, all chopped
½ cup – Raisins and sultanas

dessert recipe, pradhaman recipe, payasam, pradhaman, parippu pradhaman, Kerala recipes, coconut recipes Make sure the dals are fully cooked and then mash them. (Photo: Pooja Pillai)


* Heat half the ghee in a pressure cooker on medium flame and roast the dals in it till they’re fragrant and golden. Cover with two cups of water and pressure cook on high flame and after four whistles, switch it off. The dal should be completely cooked, so you can mash it.

* Heat 1 cup of water in another vessel and add the jaggery. Stir to dissolve completely and allow the jaggery water to bubble for a couple of minutes. Then strain this into the pressure cooker with the mashed dal and on a medium flame, cook the mixture.

* Take half the coconut milk and dilute it with half a cup of water and add that to the pressure cooker. Allow the mixture to come to a boil.

* Peel the cardamoms and pound the seeds using a mortar and pestle and add it to the pradhaman.

* Pour in the remaining thick coconut milk and switch off the flame.

* In the rest of the ghee, first fry the nuts, then the coconut and finally the raisins and sultanas till they’re nice and plump. Pour over the pradhaman.

You can serve the pradhaman hot, at room temperature or chilled — it is delicious any way.

[The Back Burner is a biweekly blog that will talk about all things food (with recipes, of course)]

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