Wednesday 29 August 2012

"Onam Vannallo Ponnonam Vannallo..." - Pal Payasam

Let me start today’s post by wishing all my wonderful readers a Happy and Blessed Onam 2012.

I love Kerala at this time of the year where everyone is dressed in traditional Kerala attire of Kasavu/Kerala sarees, Pattu Paavaada (skirt and blouse), Mundu etc. That lovely blend of cream and gold is a treat to the eye. And today I bring you something sweet, the Pal Payasam.

Payasam or Kheer is essentially a rice pudding, which is a traditional South Indian sweet dish. It is made by boiling rice or broken wheat with milk and sugar, and flavored with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashewnuts, pistachios or almonds. It is typically served during a meal or also consumed alone as a dessert.

Kheer is prepared in festivals, temples, and all special occasions. Payasa or Payasam (used in South India) or payesh (used in the Bengal region) are derived from the Sanskrit word "Payas" which also means "Milk". It is prepared using milk, rice, ghee, sugar/jaggery, khoya. Some also add a little bit of heavy cream or condensed milk to give it a more rich flavor. It is often garnished with slivered almonds, cashews, raisins and pistachios. It is an essential dish in many Hindu feasts and celebrations. While the dish is most often made with rice, it can also be made with other ingredients such as vermicelli.

Rice was known to the Romans, and possibly introduced to Europe as a food crop as early as the 8th or 10th century AD, and so the recipe for the popular English Rice Pudding is believed by some to be descended from Payasam/Kheer.

The South Indian version, payasam or payasa is an integral part of a traditional South Indian meal. The South Indian payasam also makes extensive use of jaggery and coconut milk in place of sugar and milk.

In a Kerala Sadya, payasam is served at the end of the hearty meal. Hot payasam served after a delicious and elaborate feast of rice, sambar and other dishes is relished by all Malayalees. Payasam is often served on the banana leaf itself and eaten along with bananas and pappad - "Pappadam-Pazham-Payasam". Sounds wierd?! Well, that's the right way of eating payasam at an Onam Sadya. In Malayalee or Kerala cuisine, there are several different kinds of payasam that can be prepared from a wide variety of fruits and starch bases, famous ones being: Chakka Pradhaman made from jackfruit pulp, Ada Pradhaman and  Palada Pradhaman made from flat ground rice chips, Parippu Pradhaman made from split green gram, Gothambu Payasam made from broken wheat, Semiya Payasam made from vermicelli, Mambazha Payasam made from fresh ripe mangoes etc...


Red Rice - 1/2 cup (refer notes)
Milk - 5 cups (refer notes)
Sugar - 1 and 1/4 cups
Cardamom (crushed) - 2 (or 2 pinches of cardamom powder)


Wash and clean the red rice. Keep aside.

In a pressure cooker (refer notes), add the washed rice, milk, sugar and crushed cardamom. Mix well. Cover and cook at medium to low flame. (I cooked it for 7 to 8 minutes on medium flame and the rest of the cooking was done on sim) When the steam appears, place the pressure cooker weight on it and cook for about 40 mts (preferably avoiding any whistles) on a low flame.

At the end of 40 minutes, switch off flame and keep closed for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hrs. Open the lid of the pressure cooker and give it a good stir. Check for sugar and add if necessary. (you can add 2 pinches of cardamom powder if you did not add crushed cardamoms before. Combine well.). If you find the payasam too thick, dilute it by adding boiled milk. Serve warm or cold. (I love cold payasam. My hubby and I preferred it cold, but you can always have it warm too.)

This is not the authentic payasam but a quick and easy payasam. The traditional method of preparing payasam involves more time and effort. I love this recipe for it’s simplicity and awesome flavors.


1. In case you don't have red rice, you can always use sona masoori or basmati rice in this recipe.

2. If you are using full fat milk, you can add 4 cups of milk + 1 cup of water.

3. Make sure you use a fairly large pressure cooker because the milk tends to ooze out while cooking.

What better way to welcome Maveli this Onam! An absolutely crack-a-lackin Pal Payasam just for you! Enjoy.....Have a great day and year ahead. God bless.

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