This Paal Payasam recipe is a typical Tamil style Rice Payasam – a creamy, delicious pudding of milk and rice. No extras added, just the basic rice pudding in South Indian style. Rice is a staple grain in the Indian cuisine and we make many preparations from it. Particularly in South India, savory and salty preparations like Puliyodharai, Thayir Sadam, etc. to sweet desserts like this Paal Payasam, Sakkarai Pongal and many more are made. South Indian cuisine is known for its plethora of rice-based dishes too.
About Paal Payasam
A Rice Pudding is known as Rice Kheer in India. So, when you translate the famous sweet from Tamil Nadu, Paal Payasam in English, it is ‘milk (paal)’ and ‘kheer (payasam).’ It is often spelt as Pal Payasam or referred to as Arisi Paal Payasam or Rice Payasam.
This Rice Payasam is also the simplest sweet that you can ever imagine of. Only 4 ingredients – rice, milk, sugar and ghee – simmered together into a thick, creamy concoction of deliciousness.
This South Indian sweet dish can literally be the dessert of your dreams because it is so easy to make and a 10/10 on taste.
Paal Payasam can be served hot or cold as a sweet or an after-meal dessert. You can also make this payasam on festivals and offer it to the deities.
Since we are talking about this particular South Indian version of sweet pudding, me sharing other similar variations of the same will be totally justified. So, you can try all of these too.
From Southern India, some of my other favorites are Pasi Paruppu Payasam, Kadalai Paruppu Payasam and another Tamil delicacy Aval Payasam.
About My Recipe
I had developed my affinity towards different types of payasams while holidaying in Kerala many years back. The hotels we stayed at served some really authentic and tasty versions.
Like the mixed lentil payasam. Another one was the moong dal payasam, which was served as prasadam at the Guruvayur Temple.
I literally had an overdose of payasams on that trip, but in a positive way. And it was only right on my part to try all of them (and more!) back at home, and share the recipes that I would come up with on my blog as well.
To begin with, was this really simple, yet decadent version of the Rice Payasam. This Paal Payasam has no flavorings or dry fruits, still tastes heavenly.
The combination of rice, milk and ghee is enough to bring out the best of flavors, and you actually won’t miss any of the flavorings in this dish.
But still, if you can’t really digest a payasam or kheer without adding some flavorings in it, refer to this list, choose and add what you like:
- Cardamom powder
- Nutmeg powder
- Saffron strands
- Blanched and sliced almonds
- Chopped or sliced cashews or pistachios
- Rose water
- Kewra water (pandanus water)
The way to cook this Rice Payasam is that of a slow cooking method. Because of the slow simmering, the Paal Payasam develops its own rice flavors.
I usually don’t cook kheers/payasams in a pressure cooker as I don’t take chances with the milk spilling out from the cooker and creating a mess. But if you wish, you can try cooking it in pressure cooker.
How to make Paal Payasam
1. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a thick bottomed wide pan or kadai. If you want, you can also add ½ tablespoon ghee.
2. Add 3 tablespoons basmati rice. I kept the rice whole. You can also coarsely ground the rice and then add.
Also, if you prefer, you can rinse the rise grains first and spread them on a plate to dry.
3. Stir the rice grains and sauté.
4. Sauté for on low to medium heat for about 30 seconds or till the rice turns fragrant. Do not brown the rice.
Cooking Rice With Milk
5. Then, add 1 liter full cream milk or whole milk which has been boiled before. The pre-boiled milk can be hot, warm or refrigerated.
6. Stir to combine.
7. Bring the milk to a boil first, on low to medium heat. Stir while the milk is getting heated up, so that the bottom of the milk does not get scorched.
8. After the milk has come to a boil, continue to simmer till the rice grains are cooked. For quick cooking of the rice, I kept a lid on the pan.
But in this case, you have to be in the kitchen and alert, so that you open the lid when the milk starts frothing up.
Or else you can cook the rice uncovered. But do stir regularly. Another tip is cover the pan in such a way, so that some of the steam can be passed through.
9. After 30 minutes the rice grains are ¾ᵗʰ cooked.
10. Continue to cook further till the rice grains are completely cooked. Here, I have kept the lid in a way, allowing some space for the steam to pass.
11. Here the rice grain are cooked well and softened. After the rice grains are cooked, you can even mash them while stirring with a spoon or spatula.
Make Paal Payasam
12. Once the rice grains are cooked, add 4 tablespoons sugar. You can add sugar as per your taste requirements.
13. Stir so that the sugar is dissolved.
14. Simmer further for 8 to 10 minutes or till the milk has reduced and the payasam has thickened.
Keep in a mind that as the payasam cools, it will thicken more. So, you can decide the consistency you prefer.
15. Serve Paal Payasam plain or garnished with saffron, rose petals or sliced almonds.
For the picture, I garnished with some dried rose petal chiffonade. You can serve the Rice Payasam hot or cold. Refrigerate when it comes to room temperature.
- For this payasam, use full cream or whole milk. Low fat milk have the chances of curdling while getting cooked. Also, pre-boiled milk that is added in the rice, can be hot, warm or refrigerated.
- You have to keep stirring the milk when it is getting heated in order to avoid scorching from the bottom.
- Since this payasam is cooked in ghee, you can go a little low on it. Instead of 1 tablespoon, you can add ½ tablespoon too.
- I have added whole rice in this recipe. You can even grind the rice coarsely and then add.
- To cook the rice quickly, I covered the pan with a lid. But if you are doing so, stay around so that you can open and check when the milk starts to froth. Also, cover your pan in a way that some steam can be passed through. If not doing this, then you can cook the rice uncovered as well, but keep stirring regularly.
- You may have your likings when it comes to the sweetness in the payasam. Add sugar accordingly.
- Remember on cooling, you will have a thicker payasam. So, decide on the consistency you want and cook accordingly. If not serving immediately, refrigerate once it comes to room temperature.
- Garnish options: Rose petals, saffron, sliced almonds or pistachios.
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Paal Payasam | Rice Payasam
Paal Payasam is a simple South Indian variant of a slow cooked rice pudding made with only 4 ingredients. This recipe is of a typical Tamil style Rice Payasam that is creamy and delicious.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe
Heat ghee in a thick bottomed wide pan or kadai until it melts. Keep the heat to a low or medium-heat.
When the ghee melts, add basmati rice.
- Stir the rice grains and sauté for about 30 seconds on a low to medium heat or till you get a nice fragrant aroma from the rice. Do not allow the rice to get browned.
Then add milk which has been boiled before. The pre-boiled milk can be hot, warm or refrigerated. Stir the rice grains with the milk.
Bring the milk to a boil first on a low to medium heat. Do stir when the milk is getting heated up, so that the bottom of the milk does not get scorched.
After the milk has come to a boil, continue to simmer till the rice grains are cooked completely and softened.
For quick cooking of the rice, I kept a lid on the pan. But in this case, you have to be in the kitchen so that you open the lid when the milk starts frothing up. Or else you can cook the rice uncovered. But do stir regularly.
Another tip is cover the pan in such a way, so that some of the steam can be passed through.
Continue to cook further till the rice grains are completely softened. After the rice grains are cooked, you can even mash them while stirring with a spoon or spatula.
Once the rice grains are cooked well, add sugar. Stir so that the sugar is dissolved.
- Simmer for a further 8 to 10 minutes till the milk has reduced and the payasam has thickened. Do keep in mind that as this payasam cools it will thicken more, so you can decide the consistency which you prefer.
- Serve Paal Payasam as is or garnished with saffron, rose petals or sliced almonds. You can serve the payasam hot or cold. You can also offer the payasam to any deity first before serving to anyone else.Keep any leftover payasam in the fridge after it comes at room temperature.
- When making rice payasam for the deities, do not taste or smell any of the ingredients. Also use freshly purchased ingredients.
- Feel free to include your choice of nuts and dry fruits. You can opt to fry the nuts separately in 1 tablespoon ghee and add this entire mixture of the fried nuts and ghee to the payasam once it is cooked.
- For flavorings, you can add add cardamom powder, cloves powder, nutmeg powder, cinnamon powder, saffron strands, rose water or kewra water.
- While I have used raw sugar to make this sweet, you can also use jaggery omitting the sugar. Grate or finely chop the jaggery. Let the payasam cook first. After the payasam is cooked, set it aside on the countertop for 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the jaggery and stir to mix until the jaggery dissolves. You could add about 4 tablespoons of grated or finely chopped jaggery.
- This recipe can be scaled easily to make for less servings or more portions.
Paal Payasam | Rice Payasam
Amount Per Serving
Calories 276 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Vitamin A 418IU8%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.2mg13%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.4mg24%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.4mg2%
Vitamin B6 0.2mg10%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin D 3µg20%
Vitamin E 0.1mg1%
Vitamin K 1µg1%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 1µg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
This Rice Payasam recipe post from the archives first published in October 2015 has been republished and updated on 4 September 2022.