Palada – Not the Humble Rice Pudding



Some  things  in  life  are beautiful in their  simplicity.  Palada does  this  for  deserts. Just a few  ingredients – rice , sugar, milk,  a little ghee  and  a  pinch of  cardamom – that is all it  takes  to  make  this  popular Kerala sweet treat.  Bakeries along  the  streets of Ernakulam usually displays “Palada”  signs. The  number of signs  multiply  during  the  festival  seasons.  This  being a milk based  desert gets spoilt  easily  in the  tropical heat and  humidity.  So a fresh batch  arrives  every morning  and  is  usually  sold  out  before  noon , especially during  Onam  and  Vishu.  Even my lactose intolerant MIL finds  it  difficult  not  to buy  a container.

You can  make  these   with  fresh homemade  ada  or  store bought  ones , in a  pinch even  use  broken  rice  noodles.  Each  option changes  the  texture  and  taste a  little, but all are  delicious.  I prefer  homemade  fresh Ada  ,  and  here is  my recipe  for  quick and  easy  fresh  homemade Ada .


The  first  step is  to  prepare the  Ada. If  using   fresh ,  rise  and  strain.  If  using  store bought  follow  the  instrictions  on the  package  or  just  soak in warm   water  for  20 minutes,  rinse  and  drain.

In a  heavy bottomed pan   heat  the  milk.   Once it  is  hot  add the  drained  ada.  Stir  every now  and  then  to prevent  the  bits  from  sticking  to  each other.  Once  the  milk has  come  to a boil  add the sugar  and  keep  on medium heat  till  the milk  has  thickened  a  little,  about  20 to 30 minutes.  I like  it  be  medium  thick,  so 30 minutes  is  usually sufficient.    Keep   stirring  every few  minutes  to prevent   the  milk  from  boiling  over  as  well as  getting  stuck to and  burnt in the pan. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Keep the heat on low.


Remove  the  cardamom  seeds  from the  pods  and  crush into a  fine  powder  using a  mortar  and  pestle. Set aside.

Heat  1 tablespoon ghee  in a  small pan (kadai)  and  fry the   cashew nuts. Once  it has  browned  evenly  remove  and set  aside. If   adding  raisins  repeat  the  same  process  with them as well.

Add 1 tsp  ghee  to the  kadai.  Once  the  ghee  has  reached  its  smoking  point   add 2 Tbsp  sugar  and  reduce  the  flame  to low. Let  the  sugar  caramelize. Once it  is  fully melted  and  the  brown  caramel is  formed   pour a  few  tablespoons  , about a  1/4 C  or  so, of  the  hot  liquid   from the  palada  over it.  Be  careful at  this   step , it could  splutter  and   splash all over.  The  caramel   solidifies in the  pan . Keep the  heat  low  to medium   and  stir  until  all the  caramel is  dissolved  and  pink/brown  solution  is  formed .  Add  this   liquid  back  to the  palada .  Sprinkle  the  cardamom powder  and  half the  fried  raisins  and  cashew nuts .  Turn off  the heat .

Let the  ad  cool  for  at least  30 minutes. It   will  thicken a  little  more as  it  cools.  Transfer  to  the  serving  dishes , garnish  with the   remaining  nuts  and  raisins  and serve.

I like my   palada   to be   white  in color  with  hint of  caramel, the  same  flavor  it  acquires  after long  hours of  stirring  and  thickening  in large  Uruli.  If  you  prefer  it  to be  a  bit  more pink   increase  the  amount  of  caramelized  sugar .


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings



Ada - 1 1/2 C
Milk - 6 C
Sugar - 3/4 C (To taste)
Cardamom - 6 pods
Ghee - 2 Tbsp
Cashew nuts - 2 Tbsp (optional)
Raisins - 2 Tbsp (optional)
Sugar - 2 Tbsp


Rinse and drain the fresh Ada . If using store bought, soak in warm water and drain .

Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed pan . When warm slowly add the ada and stir well . Once it comes to a boil add the sugar and keep it on medium heat until the milk has thickened to desirable consistency, 20 to 30 minutes for medium thickness . Keep stirring every few minutes to prevent burning . Taste and add more sugar if required. Reduce heat to low.

Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush them into a fine powder. Set aside .

Heat 1 Tbsp ghee in a small pan and fry the cashew nuts , followed by the raisins. Add more ghee to the pan if required. Set aside .

Add 2 Tbsp sugar to the same pan and let it caramelize over low heat. Pour about 1/4 C of hot milk from the Palada over the caramel . Stir well to dissolve the solidified caramel. Add the caramel milk solution to the palada. Mix well .

Sprinkle the cardamom powder on the palada and stir well . Mix in half the nuts and raisins . Turn off the heat and cool for at least 30 minutes .

Transfer to serving dishes, garnish with the remaining fried nuts and raisins . Serve .

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