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Wedding Traditions and an Ice cream recipe

If you're a South Indian 'Tambram' (Tamil Brahmin) who went through the traditional 'whole nine yards' , wedding ceremony to literally 'tie the knot', you would probably remember the 'oonjal' ceremony. Its a beautiful social part of the whole 3 day event (yes, the ceremonies span 3 days!). where the bride & groom are seated on a double swing (decorated to the hilt with fragrant garlands)  & are revered as Lord Vishnu & Lakshmi. They get their feet washed (albeit, just ceremonially, with a fingertip's worth of milk) and are fed a mix of milk  with bananas ('Paalum Pazham') by the spoonful, by all the older married female relatives. and this is where the interesting innovative hacks begin to fall into place.

Thats my left palm with a wad of tissue!

It does not matter how much one prepares for the 'paalum pazham' session. The box of tissues wedged in between the couple will invariably be knocked over by the 1/2 a dozen well meaning children that are strategically placed hitching a ride on the swing, (with beaming non verbal hints from the trove of elder 'maamies' (older married women, collectively referred to as maamies or aunts). The said box of tissues will  then be kicked out of reach in the jostling. To cut a long story short, unless you want to clean your sticky palms on your soon-to-be other half's 'angavastram' (a silk shawl that partially covers the upper half of the body), inviting a buzz of giggles mixed with disapproval from the maami crowd, or even worse, use the pallu of your gorgeous & expensive Kanjeevaram, you're stuck with sticky palms.

Hacks for overcoming this sticky  situation include
a.  Having a thoughtful cousin stand next to you with a hand towel, which gets sticky & practically unusable after the third round.
b. Using tiny silver cups to receive the paal pazham blessing, which means that you'll have to literally drop it down your hatch (sipping is a big NO NO for ceremonial purposes).
 & c. resign yourself to the situation..

Which brings me to this weeks recipe, inspired by Food52's genius recipe and an article from The Kitchn. I believe the idea and the concept originated from none other than Nathan Myhrvold, the guy who cooks with all that fnacy space age equipment, but for once you do not need anything more advanced than a regular food processor.
I opted to add cardamom, saffron & crystallized ginger to the bananas simply to give an interesting contrast in taste, a delicious add-on to the single note banana flavor.

Now if only the maamies would spoon dollops of this decadent frozen paal pazham to future bridal couples.. AAH that would be a true Panfusine moment!

Paal Pazham Ice cream: 
(recipe inspired by and adapted from The Kitchn & Food52)

You need: (makes 4-5 servings)

4 - 6 well ripened 'spotty' bananas
2 oz. heavy cream (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom
12-15 strands saffron
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Peel and cut the banana into 1/2 inch slices. Toss gently with the lime juice (to retain color) . Layer on  a tray (or simply toss into a mixing bowl) and place in freezer for about one hour. (these can be frozen indefinitely, just thaw them for 10 -15 minutes when you're ready to make the ice cream.

 Add the bananas into the  food processor along with the crystallized ginger, cardamom and the saffron. Start running the machine.

 The mix will initially look crumbly like 'dipping dots'. At this point add the optional heavy  cream (the cream simply fulfills the requirement of the dish being a 'paal pazham' version), with the machine running. within 30 seconds you should see the mix congeal into a creamy mass  as you see below.

Scooping up a bit, you'll be able to feel how silky smooth and creamy it really is!

 Scoop up the ice cream straight from the food processor into bowls and serve immediately.

Freeze the left overs and simply drop it into the food  processor again  to reconstitute the ice cream all over again!

Celebrate these last days of glorious summer.. Bon Appetit!


  1. I knew this ice cream was in the making when you shared the link1 But what I had not expected was this trip down the memory lane.
    Love your mehendhi and I see you were smart to hold a tiny handkerchief ready!

  2. Thanks Lata!
    well, it was the first thing that came to mind when I read the post on Food52.. With all the accompanying corny visions of the maamimaar feeding the couple ice cream!

  3. For us, the Nairs in Kerala, paal pazham is given directly in mouth using a spoon, so it is fine :) But still you get a tummy ache after being fed by almost a hundred of your *close* relatives :D
    The ice cream sounds yumm. Last week I saw the banana ice cream in food 52 and was thinking to make it, this is a better version for sure :)

    1. that is SOO sensible compared to the milk spreading thru between the digits & getting all sticky right near the little webbing between the fingers Namitha..
      They actually starve the couple & deprive them of the wedding food until all the rituals are over! that happened at my wedding!

  4. Nivedita, this is a really sweet post. Nice recipe too :-)


  5. sweet! always nice to read the wedding traditions! Ours also span about that long, tho the last 2 days are beyond telling and feels like forever. One ceremony merges into another and I have lost all track of what came before or after :) The henna is beautiful! and so is the ice crea. nice twist (as always Niv!)

  6. where did the M go?! meant Ice Cream :)

  7. wow awesome ice cream i love banana . i will definitely try it at home and let u know.

  8. very nice! A tambrahm, polyglot Nigella Lawson of the food blogging world. I stake my claim, even if I am a lapsed one - tambrahm, I mean :) But just for us fans, you should complete the picture of the blushing bride, should'nt you?!

  9. LOL.. I would have.. except that the groom flat refused to co-operate!, but then again.. its all about the food in question isn't it??

  10. OMG! I glad you took the compliment so well ;) Husbands are handy like that- to place the blame on ;) LOL!! But it is about the food (in question or not, I'm uncertain,;)! ) and thanks for reminding me - I'm adding a bunch of your recipes to try out this holiday, they've been enticing me ever since I stumbled on your blog a couple of years ago. Keep up the good work!


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