My Mad Madras Pop-Up Dinner and Gulkand Payasam Recipe


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@ Feastly Studio

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Before the night begins @ Feastly Studio

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Pouring orange rasam into shot glasses

Whoot! Yet another great night. Thanks to all the 12 diners who came in. We made new friends and I am glad that they all left with a happy tummy. It was a busy Saturday. I had been cooking up like a storm. After a day of hard work, it is rewarding to hear great feedback from the feasters. You guys definitely made my day night. It was all vegetarian and gluten-free meal.

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Orange Rasam Shots

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Ghee roasted plantains topped with yogurt and cardamom

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Ready and all set @ Feastly Studio

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Steamed rice noodles – Idhiyappam served with coconut kurma, alpha-alpha and boondi

My pop-up dinner on 18Apr2015 went really well. The response was very encouraging. So I will be hosting the same menu in South Bay Area in the following dates:

16May2015 (6 seats)

13Jun2015  (6 seats)

I am excited, thrilled and stocked. I am running short of words so this post will be a photo essay. Thank you for support and encouragement. Please keep it coming. Hope to see you in one of my pop-up.

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Steamed Rice Cakes – Idli served with sambhar, coconut chutney and roasted peppers

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Adai Bites with Tomato Chutney, Aviyal and Butter and served with Panagam Shots

I came to know about Tracy Lee through my friend Charissa, who runs Zest Bakery (gluten free) along with her husband Patrick. Tracy is a woman entrepreneur who is full of energy. She is the founder of Dishcrawl and CEO of Wingman. She also author a blog Delicious Duo.

Dishcrawl is a company that organizes food crawks so foodies can try new food spots in the neighborhood. This is a great wat to meet new people. She came to my dinner and she shared this beautiful video and pictures with me.

Wingman plans interactive experiences, food and drink adventures, and customer facing events.You should check their website to learn more. Thanks Tracy for joining my table. It was truly a pleasure to have you and Mike on my pop-up. You guys are awesome. You can follow her in twitter and instagram (@ladyleet).

Photo Credit: All pictures by Tracy Lee (except dried roses and rose petal jam)

Spices and Aroma “Mad Madras” (click here to see the video)

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I am plating the Adai Bites with Tomato Chutney, Aviyal and Butter and served with Panagam Shots

I planned the menu for the night taking inspiration from the dishes I grew up eating. Rasam is a staple dish made almost everyday in South Indian homes. I decided to have it on the menu as it definitely speaks about the place I come from. I made it with a local ingredient – oranges instead of tamarind which is typically used to flavor the rasam. Last time I made it with plums that were in season. Chilled orange rasam shots was the starting dish for the night and I served it with some ghee roasted plantains. I spoke about inspiration for each dish. You need to be in a next dinner to hear about it. Until then, please enjoy this dessert made with rose petals, milk, cardamom and cashews.

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My awesome diners – thank you for coming!

Gulkandh is a jam made with rose petals. It is popular in Middle Eastern and Southern Asian cooking. Gul means flower and kandh means sweet in Persian. Gulkandh means sweetened flower. During my trip to Israel in March this year, I brought home few pounds of dried Moroccan rose petals. I used it to make the jam with sugar, lemon juice and water. They are served after a meal along with betel leaves. According to Ayurveda, Gulkandh is a tonic and it reduces heat in the body and treats acidity. During pregnancy, Indian women are advised to eat a teaspoon of gulkandh after a meal to reduce acidity and acid reflux. I wanted to introduce this amazing dish to my San Francisco foodies. I decided to cook them with arisi payasam (rice pudding). The creamy milk pudding should be served chilled with cashews, rose water and roasted coconuts.

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Rose Petal Jam – Homemade and oooh! so good



  • 1 cup dried rose petals or 3 cups fresh rose petals
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 cup water

Cooking Directions

  1. Bring all the ingredients to a rolling boil until they thicken, about 30-40 minutes. Keep stirring every 10 minutes to prevent burning.
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Gulkandh Payasam




  • 1/2 cup raw rice ( I used raw ponni rice)
  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon cardamom powder
  • 1 cup grated jaggery, packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon rose water (I used Dabur brand – can be found in Indian grocery store)

Cooking Direction

  1. Mix all the ingredients and pressure cook for 1 whistle or cook them in a pan for 45 minutes until they turn creamy. Please don’t add more sweetness as we will be mixing in the rose petals jam.
  2. Add 1 cup gulkandh to the milk mixture and continue to stir until they are well incorporated into the pudding. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Switch off the flame and add the rose water. Stir and let it cool.
  3. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  4. Transfer to the serving bowl and garnish with unsalted roasted cashews and roasted unsweetened coconut shavings.

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