Kheers and Payasams


Kheers are like Puddings. It’s rice pudding typically made by boiling rice with milk and sugar. It is often flavored with cardamoms, saffron, pistachios or almonds. While the dish is traditionally made with rice, it can also be made with other ingredients such as vermicelli (sayviah) which is a thin noodle. Kheer is known as Payasam in the South of India. They tend to use coconut milk instead or regular milk.There are many versions of this dessert dish in both the south as well as North of India.

It’s an essential dish in many Hindu and Muslim feasts and celebrations. Payasams are served as an offering to the gods in South Indian Hindu temples during rituals and ceremonies. The Southern Indian state of Kerala, people have a particular affinity towards this dish.

In fact, the recipe for the popular English rice pudding was originally derived from kheer when Britain had occupied India.

Types of Kheer & Payasams

Most of the kheers are milk based but for some of the south Indian payasam recipes, milk is replaced with coconut milk. Jaggery is another important ingredient in Kheer and payasum, some use sugar instead but the main distinction of an authentic kheer or payasam is the use of jaggery. Kheer or payasam generally has a consistency of porridge. A commonly used flavor for kheer is cardamom but, you can keep it plain or make it as rich as you like with the addition of ghee(clarified butter) and nuts like pistachio, almonds, essences of rose, almond or vanilla etc.

Here’s a look at the various types of Kheers and Payasams:

Rice Kheer

2 litres full-cream milk
1 can (400 gms) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup Basmati rice
50 gms almonds blanched and slivered
50 gms raisins
A few strands of saffron
Rose petals to garnish (optional)


– Wash the rice well and soak for half an hour in enough water to cover it fully.
– Put the milk, condensed milk and sugar in a deep, thick-bottomed pan and boil. When the milk comes to a boil, add the rice and simmer. Cook till the milk thickens and reduces to half its original volume.
– Add the almonds, raisins and cardamom and cook for 5 more minutes.
– Turn off the fire and add the saffron. Stir well.
– Allow the kheer to cool, then chill.
– Serve cold garnished with rose petals.

Vermicelli Kheer


2 cups Almonds
1cup Seviya (Vermicelli) broken into 4 cm bits
5 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup almonds (sliced)
1/4 cup unsalted blanched pistachio, silvered
1/2 tbsp rose water
Silver or gold papper (varak)

– Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed non-stick pan over medium heat and add vermicelli and fry till golden brown, stirring constantly.
– Pour the milk, sugar, almonds, pistachio and stirring constantly bring to boil.
– Cook for about 20 minutes or until the milk is slightly thickened.
– Cool to room temperature, add rose water and chill thoroughly.
– Stir well and serve the vermicelli pudding in individual bowls with a piece of silver or gold paper (varak).

Wheat Payasam

Broken Wheat  (250g)
Coconut (2 nos.)
Jaggery  (500g)
Raisins  (10g)
Cashew Nuts (10g)
Ghee (3tbs)
Cardamom (5g)
Dry ginger powder (10g)
Cumin Powder (10g)


1. Grate the coconut. Add 1/2 glass warm water to the grated coconut. Extract the first milk. Extract the second milk by adding 1 1/2 glass warm water. Again repeat the process to extract the third milk.   2. Fry the broken wheat lightly in one teaspoon ghee. Cook the wheat well in 1 1/2 liters of water.

3. When it is done add the third milk and the second milk to the wheat and bring to a boil. When it thickens to a semi solid consistency, add powdered jaggery. Add the first milk, fried nut, raisins, powdered cardamom, ginger and cumin. Mix well and remove from fire immediately. Serve hot.