Payasam from India
Alternative name(s) Payasam, Ksheeram, Ksheer
Place of origin India
Region or state Kerala
Dish details
Main ingredient(s) rice, milk, cardamoms, saffron, pistachios or almonds
Variations Gil e firdaus, barley kheer, Kaddu ki Kheer, Paal (milk), payasam

Payasam (Sanskrit: क्षीर/Ksheer)(Hindi: खीर, Punjabi: ਖੀਰ, Khiri (ଖିରି) in Oriya, Urdu: کھیر/kheer) also known as Payasam (Tamil: பாயசம்) or Payesh (Bengali) (Malayalam: പായസം) (Kannada:ಪಾಯಸ) (Telugu:పాయసం) is a rice pudding, which is a traditional South Asian 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.


Regional Variations

Ingredients of kheer

Kheer is prepared in festivals, temples, and all special occasions. The term Kheer (used in north India) is derived from Sanskrit words Ksheeram[1] (which means milk). Other terms like Payasa or Payasam (used in South India) or payesh (used in 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 to give it more richness in taste. It is often garnished using 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 (sayviah).

Rice was known to the Romans, and possibly introduced to Europe as a food crop as early as the 8th or 10th century AD,[2] and so the recipe for the popular English rice pudding is believed by some to be descended from kheer.[1] Similar rice recipes (originally called potages) go back to some of the earliest written recipes in English history.[3]

East Indian version

The Oriya version of rice kheer likely originated in the city of Puri, in Orissa about 2,000 years ago.[4] It is cooked to this day within the temple precincts there. Every single day, hundreds of temple cooks work around 752 hearths in what is supposed to be the world's largest kitchen to cook over 100 different dishes, including kheer, enough to feed at least 10,000 people.

Although white sugar is most commonly used, adding gur (jaggery) as the sweetener is an interesting variation prepared in Orissa.

Sagukhiri, a khiri made in Orissa

In Bengal, it is called payas or payesh. A traditional Bengali meal ends with payas followed by other sweets. Payas is also regarded as an auspicious food and generally associated with Annaprashana (weaning ritual of a infant) and birthday celebrations in a Bengali household. It is called Kheer in Bengali if milk is used in a significantly greater amount than rice. The people of Bangladesh prepare "payesh" with Ketaki, Glutinous rice, Vermicelli, Semolina and Coconut milk and the result is a stickier and creamier dessert.

In Southern India

The South Indian version, payasam or payasa (Kannada: ಪಾಯಸ, Malayalam: പായസം, pronounced [paːjasam], Tamil: பாயசம், Telugu: పాయసం) is an integral part of 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 South Indian meal, payasam is served after rasam rice, while rice with buttermilk forms the last item of the meal.[5] Payasam also forms an integral part of the Kerala feast (sadya), where it is served and relished from the flat banana leaf instead of cups. 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, an example being chakkapradhaman made of jackfruit pulp, adapradhaman made of flat ground rice.

The Hyderabadi version is called as Gil e firdaus, and is quite popular.

Payasam is served as an offering to the Gods in South Indian Hindu temples during rituals and ceremonies.

Northern India, and neighboring country versions

In North India, Kheer is prepared and eaten on almost every festival. It is considered as holy dessert and used as a part of Bhog/Pras. The dish is also consumed at Muslim weddings and prepared on the feasts of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha. A similar dessert, variously called fir-ni, phir-ni or phir-nee, is eaten among the Muslim community of North India and also in Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Firni tends to be made with rice powder rather than whole rice. Today, restaurants offer fir-ni in a wide range of flavors including apricot, mango, fig, saffron and custard apple.

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b "Eastern Aromas". As Promised! Kheer. Retrieved 2008-05-30. [dead link]
  2. ^
  3. ^ Hieatt, Constance; Sharon Butler (1985). Curye on Inglysch. Early English Text Society. pp. 64, 68, 75. ISBN 0-19-722409-1. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Desserts are served mid-way through the meal. The Payasam is a thick fluid dish of sweet brown molasses, coconut milk and spices, garnished with cashew nuts and raisins. There could be a succession of Payasams, such as the Palada Pradhaman and Parippu Pradhaman.

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