Vikas Khanna Recreates Aval Prasadam, Gets TempleVisit Nostalgia
Image Credit: Instagram/Vikas Khanna

The fact that Michelin-starred Chef Vikas Khanna has a huge connection with temple kitchens across India and the world is well known. From growing up in Amritsar while doing regular service or Seva at the Golden Temple to visiting the biggest temple kitchens across India, Chef Vikas Khanna has done it all and taken us on a spiritual food journey along with him. In a recent social media post, Chef Vikas Khanna once again gave us a glimpse of temple food in India through his memories of living in Karnataka. 

For those who don’t know, Chef Vikas Khanna studied the culinary arts at Manipal, Karnataka—where he recently also inaugurated a Museum of Culinary Arts—near the temple town of Udupi. In the recent post on Instagram, Chef Vikas Khanna revealed that while at Manipal, he frequently used to visit the Shri Venkataramana Temple at Karkala, which was about an hour’s bus ride away from Udupi. It was at this temple that he first tasted the unique Aval Prasadam, the memory of which has stayed with him decades since. 

“When I used to study at Manipal, I was obsessed with everything Karnataka,” Chef Vikas Khanna says in the video post. “There was one temple that I used to visit regularly, which was in Karkala, Shri Venkataramana Temple. And they used to have this Prasad of sweet poha made with jaggery and coconut. I’m going to attempt to create something similar out of a memory.” He also shared that the bus ride used to cost around Rs 70, which was a lot of money for a student in 1991—and yet, visiting the temple and getting the Prasad served in banana leaves was worth it all in the form of blessings. 

In the video, Chef Vikas Khanna then starts the recipe by soaking poha or flattened rice in a bit of water. He then heats up ghee in a pan and lightly fries raisins and cashews until they turn golden-brown. In the remaining ghee, he also roasts freshly grated coconuts until they turn lightly golden. After setting these aside, Chef Vikas Khanna goes on to add more ghee to the pan and cooks the soaked flattened rice while also melting some jaggery in water to make a golden syrup infused with cardamoms.  

He then adds the cooked poha to the jaggery syrup, tosses everything together, adds the cashews, raisins and black sesame seeds, and then serves the Aval Prasadam in banana leaves. The Shri Venkataramana  Temple in Karkala, Karnataka, is also known as Padutirupathi and was established the Gouda Saraswat Brahmins of the region in 1537. As Chef Vikas Khanna reveals in his post, Aval Prasadam is a unique temple food or Naivedhyam that is offered to the deities at this temple and then distributed among devotees. In his post, he also reveals that British lifestyle guru Jay Shetty’s father, Shyam Shetty, also remembered this Aval Prasadam during his years of growing up in the region.