Saturday, October 4, 2014

Payesh/ Bengali Kheer/ Payasam

Payesh/ Bengali Kheer/ Payasam

One of the most basic Indian desserts is the Rice Pudding. It goes by many many names be it Payesh in Bengali, Kheer in Hindi, Payasam in tamil and telegu, payasa in Kannada or Khiri in Oriya.

Its an easy basic recipe indeed yet perfecting it is really an art.

To be fair I am fortunate enough to have an aunt like my Mimi who can perfect each and every Bengali recipe. Now the problem is once you have had the perfect dish or to be politically correct lets say its perfect for me then it is difficult to enjoy any other variations which falls short of being perfect. As a result throughout my childhood and adulthood the only place I would relish this decadent creamy dessert was at my Mimi's (even my grandmother's kheer pales in comparison to my Mimi's) till the day I asked her to teach me how to make it.

The best part about Mimi as a teacher is that she tries and explains each step and gives me the reasons wherever possible.  This one is neither too thick so that the creaminess is overshadowed by the rice clotted together and nor is it too liquid in nature. Its just right.

This is one of the desserts I have made again and again and again from a very long time and so here goes a simple easy recipe which I have tried to keep as precise and detailed as possible

Recipe :

Makes about 4 to 5 servings

Cups used hold 220ml liquid

1 litre full fat milk (you cannot use toned milk else it will most definitely compromise the taste)
1 handful of . rice washed thoroughly (it comes to about 1/4th cup of rice ) { This rice is short grained and sometimes it is sold as kheer rice in many places, it is called Atop Chal or Gobindobhog chal in Bengali)
1 handful of sugar + 2 tbsp sugar but you must change the amount of sugar as per taste
2 green cardamom
1 large bay leaf
50gm broken cashew nuts
Fat pinch of saffron soaked in milk
1 tsp ghee

Bring the milk to a boil in a deep bottomed pan and the ghee , green cardamom and bay leaf  . Adding the ghee keeps the dessert extra smooth.

Now reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature and add the washed rice and simmer it. Use a wide spatula to stir the mixture every 10 minutes for the next 45 minutes make sure the bottom of the pan does not burn.

Add the cashew nuts after 45 minutes.

After 50 minutes of simmering it with frequent stirring check the rice . It would have been cooked by now and will be of a melt in the mouth consistency. Now add the sugar . You must not add sugar before the rice is fully cooked else the rice remains uncooked.

You must stir continuously for the next 10 minutes to 15 minutes to prevent the dessert from sticking to the bottom and getting ruined. After 10 minutes add the soaked saffron and simmer while stirring continuously for another 2 minutes and switch off the gas.

Let it cool down and chill it for 3 hours to 4 hours and serve after giving the dessert a good stir. You must stir before serving because a thick cream will form on top which must be mixed well with the desert for the creamy smooth consistency.

Enjoy this classic delicacy


  1. During the winters we get a special jaggery called 'Nolen Gur' in Bengal which is palm date jaggery and we repalce the sugar with the jaggery and it gives a divine taste. 
  2. Many people love adding raisins to the dish. If you wish to do so add it when you are adding the cashew nuts. 
  3. You can replace the cashew nuts with blanched  pistachios or blanched and chopped almonds. 


  1. Looks great. I loved the detailed explanations too.

    1. Thanks Shobana and I must say your Chettinad Paneer tempts me greatly.