The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: Kerala

Scrawled Keepsakes/Parippu Pradaman

As a child (or a young adult), I never cooked. I did not know how to. I could rustle up a decent cup of instant coffee but that was it. Mummy tried her best to get me to help around the kitchen, maybe learn to cook a few basic things. But I wasn’t remotely interested. Mom, the smart and wise woman that she is, gave up on the obvious-to-be-wasted effort. Her thought? You will learn to cook when you need to.

How right she was. I had to cook when I arrived in the United States, a young and hopeful bride, hopelessly earnest and wondering/wandering. And so I learned. Longtime blog readers may recall some old posts where I described cooking a dal, that I thought was moong and ended up being masoor instead. I used to call Pinch at work asking him to troubleshoot “difficult” cooking situations. Ahh, those were the days.

I started maintaining a notebook of recipes I got from Mom. And that’s how I got hold of the Parippu Pradaman recipe.

Parippu Pradaman Recipe

This is a traditional Kerala dessert made from moong dal, jaggery and coconut milk. Yes, it is vegan. And it is ready in minutes, if you use canned coconut milk. You can fancify it with raisins and toasted cashews, if you like. I love the simple version, so here you go.

Need any further instructions, or will those four lines suffice? 🙂

Ingredients

3/4 cup moong dal
1/2 cup jaggery (or to taste)
2/3 cup canned coconut milk (full-fat)
powdered/crushed cardamom, dried ginger (optional)

Method

  • Roast moong dal in a pan until lightly toasted. Let it cool. Rinse with water a couple of times to wash off any dust, etc.
  • Cook moong dal in a pressure cooker.
  • Mash the cooked moong dal with the back of a spoon until it has a somewhat uniform consistency (no lumps).
  • Place jaggery in a pan. Add boiling water so you can mix the jaggery evenly. Cook on medium-low heat until the jaggery melts and turns syrupy.
  • Add moong dal to the jaggery syrup. Mix well.
  • Pour coconut milk into the moong dal-jaggery concoction. Stir well. Turn off the heat.
  • Sprinkle crushed cardamom and dried ginger on top. Serve warm or cold.

Parippu Pradaman

Notes

If you wish, you can add more (or less coconut milk), so as to get a medium-thick consistency. I think you might also be able to get away with using low-fat coconut milk but then you will miss the incredible creaminess of the preparation. 🙂

You can also vary the amount of jaggery you use, if you would like the dish to be more (or less) sweet.

Familiar Flavors at Cardamom Hill

Oh Cardamom Hill! So long since I have been meaning to walk in through your glass doors, make myself comfortable, order the Vegetarian Thali and tuck in… it finally happened last week.

Chef Asha Gomez’s latest offering, Cardamom Hill, situated in Atlanta, has been creating waves all around town and beyond. The fried chicken appears to be a hot favorite with locals, food critics and everyone else. The lunch menu changes daily and is updated on the restaurant’s Tumblr site. It generally features a couple of appetizers, a choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian thali, dessert.

I walked in that afternoon and was pleasantly surprised to find a space so warm and elegant that one tends NOT to expect when it comes to Indian restaurants. Sorry to sound so judgmental but I strongly think that Indian restaurants lack a lot in terms of decor and service. Stringing together a bunch of colorful scarves, scattering maroon cushions all over, hanging Indian paintings on the wall – all these are but poor representations of Indian decor. It takes an artistic interior designer to truly understand the elements of Indian-themed decor and weave them into the restaurant’s ethos. Well, the rant above does not apply to Cardamom Hill. Take a look!

Interiors, Cardamom Hill

Dark coffee brown wooden tables, comfortable stuffed chairs, wooden floors, traditional (not overly so!) carvings serving as wall hangings… Very classy, understated and elegant. The decor says ‘Indian,’ nay almost whispers it into your ears unlike many other restaurants that shout ‘INDIAN!’ with their colorful pillows, Indian paintings serving as wall art, Bollywood music streaming through the speakers, etc.

I was determined to sample everything I could on the menu. So I asked for a plate of Bhajia, described as sweet potato and onion fritters served with tamarind sauce, priced at $7.

Bhajia – Sweet Potato and Onion Fritters

Very delicious. Spiced perfectly, not too garlicky or spicy, the texture was soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, fried to perfection… and it tasted so authentic! Alongside came a bowl of tamarind dipping sauce and this one didn’t come out of a bottle, I am sure. It tasted fresh and mild. A little salad of strawberries, paper-thin radish slices, cubed pineapple and herbs with a light cardamom-oil dressing was also served. A nice touch, I thought. The Bhajias came four a plate. I saved two to take home so P could sample them and give me his expert opinion.

Next up came the Vegetarian Thali. Priced at $13, it is a nice big plate of food that can easily suffice for two people, especially if you opt to share the Bhajias beforehand.

Vegetarian Thali at Cardamom Hill

The Thali contained,
Semolina upma with vegetables
Roasted Snake gourd and corn with cumin and chilli flakes
Red cabbage and persimmon slaw
Kootu (spinach and lentils simmered in Kerala spices)

Those are the listings from the restaurant’s Tumblr site. I wanted to avoid wheat, so I asked for rice instead of the upma. Alas, the server said that he had no rice that day. No rice at a Kerala cuisine restaurant? How odd. Well, so I had to get the upma. It was very well-cooked. Upma is a breeze to make, really. It is a common breakfast snack and each region in India probably has its own version of upma. Some people add turmeric while some others don’t, some folks will throw in loads of roasted peanuts and curry leaves while some others garnish with chopped cilantro. Tomato and shredded carrots may make an appearance. And so it goes. Semolina’s texture is not unlike that of couscous; it may very well be couscous by another name. The version at Cardamom Hill was mildly spiced, a good foil to the vegetables and kootu.

I have eaten snake gourd cooked with shredded coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves. With corn? Never. It is a new twist on a familiar preparation. I can’t say that I liked it or disliked it. I wish the dish wasn’t bursting with corn, it felt a tad too much. The flavors were oh-so familiar, even if they were a shade milder than what a typical Kerala dish would feature.

Red cabbage and persimmon slaw is by no means a traditional Kerala dish! I doubt persimmon even grows in Kerala. That being said, it is a nice little side dish that added a tangy punch and freshness to the meal. The slaw was spiced with lemon juice, chopped cilantro and salt.

I always thought that kootu referred to a coconut gravy curry and so, the spinach kootu at Cardamom Hill threw me off. This version was essentially a lentil dish (chana dal, I think) with spinach leaves and a tempering of mustard, turmeric and curry leaves. Maybe this is how kootu is prepared in the Malabar region (that’s where the chef Asha Gomez hails from). It was lightly flavored, perfect in quantity. Chana dal can get rather heavy, so the little bowl was the perfect size.

Not a bad spread at all… as I said, the flavors were milder, the combinations were interesting and unique, the service was lovely, great interiors. And I skipped dessert this time, so a second visit with the husband is definitely in order!

Cardamom Hill
1700 Northside Dr
Atlanta GA 30318

www.cardamomhill.net
404-549-7012
Cardamom Hill on Urbanspoon