Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paal Payasam ( Milk Kheer or Rice Pudding)

When I think of Paal Payasam, the story that comes to my mind is that of the famous Tenali Raman. He is known for his great appetite along with his infamous wit. After a very sumptuous meal, he states he cannot even eat a morsel more. And proceeds to drink liters of this amazing dessert when it was served. The king asks him how he managed that when he said he was stuffed. To that the witty Tenali Raman responds "Your majesty, just like all the people in a crowded street clear the road when you arrive, all the food in my stomach clears way for the king of sweets - Paal payasam!"

Like any dish, making the paal payasam can be considered a trivial task where one can just mix milk, sugar and cooked rice and call it that :) However once you have tasted the dish as it should be made, you will know the difference trust me. I would like the recipe to speak for itself, but I urge you to go ahead and try this version and you will love it!

Difficultly level : Medium

Time : 30 min (prep time), 30 min (making time) -Pressure cooker method
          6 hrs (slow cooker method)


  • Milk ( 1 litre or .25 gallons or 5 glasses)
  • 1/4 cup raw rice
  • 1 glass sugar (~ 200 to 250 gms)

Optional additions:
  • couple of strands of saffron
  • a tsp of ghee
  • a tbsp of cashews
  • a pinch of cardamom
* The glass I refer to here is a normal stainless steel one found in most Indian homes that holds about 200 ml of liquid.

Method de Preparation: ( Pressure cooker)

  1. In a vessel keep 3/4 the milk and the raw rice along with the strands of saffron (if adding) and allow to cook. Keep the heat at a medium to medium low and allow the mix to cook slowly (equivalent of 3-4 whistles).
  2. Once it is done and you can open the cooker, take the mixture out. The rice should have cooked well and the payasam will have a lovely pinkish/reddish tinge to it. 
  3. Transfer to a vessel on the stovetop, add the sugar and the remainder of the milk. Keep stirring without allowing it to stick to the bottom.  The mixture will first turn watery as the sugar melts some and then will begin to condense. When it does, you can turn off the gas. Approximately the payasam in the end will he half the original quantity you would have started off with.
  4. At this point, my mom is done. She keeps is plain, simple yet extremely tasty. If you like you can add a pinch of cardamom powder and also roast the cashews in ghee and add to this.

Method de Preparation: ( Slow Cooker)

  1. Add the rice,saffron and entire milk to the slow cooker and keep on lowest setting for the first 4 hours. You can mix a couple of times in between.
  2. Add the sugar and turn to medium setting and allow to cook for another 2 hrs.
  3. You can add the cardamom and roasted cashews at the end if you like. Make sure you turn of the heat at 6 hrs, and if you find the payasam already condensed at that time transfer it to another vessel because the slow cooker's vessel retains heat and keeping it in it will continue to condense the payasam further.


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