Easy Kerala Paal Payasam in Instant Pot | Pressure Cooker

August 21, 2021 (Last Updated: December 14, 2021)

This payasam tastes like comfort. This Kerala Paal Payasam payasam has five ingredients – milk, broken rice, sugar, a little ghee, and cardamom. It is creamy, sweet, and delicious! The joy of holding a comforting bowl of payasam and sipping into it after a long day is amazing. It is what I am doing as I write this post now.

There is a comfort in knowing that few ingredients can come together and make something magical. If you use an Instant Pot, it takes you FIVE minutes of work and then an hour later, you can slurp into this joy.

As you may know, I am not very big on milk. I usually make this Kesar Badam Oats on the stovetop and enjoy a bowl when I crave kheer. Growing up, I do not remember being very fond of payasams but I have married a guy who loves milk and particularly, payasams. Since buying an Instant Pot, it is child’s play and no work to make this at all.

What is the difference between a Paal Payasam and a Kheer?

I make both these dishes regularly and these are my observations. Both are conceptually the same – rice cooked in milk and sweetened, flavored with cardamom, and served warm or cold.

In a Paal Payasam, the milk is the hero! It is left to simmer and reduce and develops a beautiful caramel color and flavor. A lot of traditional recipes do not even use cardamom leaving the milk’s own aroma to dominate the dish. The rice used varies in every region (mostly short-grained rice) and for this Kerala version, I take inspiration from the famous Ambalapuzha Payasam and use matta arisi.

A Kheer is usually flavored with ‘richer’ spices and aromatics like saffron, nutmeg and garnished with nuts and dried fruit. Most kheers also use long-grained rice like Basmati or even non-grains like Sabudana. Kheers can also be flavored with nut pastes (like an almond kheer) or vegetables ( like a carrot kheer).

Both kheer and paal payasam are delicious as a dessert and this recipe will tell you how to make both of them!

Ingredients for Kerala Paal Payasam

Matta Rice or Chemba Rice – an indigenous variety of rice from Kerala. In this recipe, I use broken matta rice which is readily available in stores. You can substitute it with short-grain rice like ponni, sona masoori, or even jasmine rice! If you have whole matta rice, pulse it for a few seconds to get coarse grains.

Milk – in this recipe, I have used full-fat cow’s milk.

Sugar – I used regular raw sugar for this payasam.

Ghee and Cardamom – these are optional, but I recommend adding a bit of both for flavour.

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5 from 8 votes

Kerala Paal Payasam in an Instant Pot & Pressure Cooker

Make this simple, easy paal payasam using only a handful of ingredients. The prep work takes less than ten minutes and the end result is worth the wait!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Keyword paal payasam, payasam
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 3


  • 1 litre milk
  • cup broken matta rice
  • ¾ cup sugar use between 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup depending on how sweet you like your payasam. 3/4 cup is really sweet!
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • few cashews for garnish optional


  • Soak the broken rice in water for 20 minutes.

Instant Pot Method

  • To the Instant Pot, add ghee. Spread it on the base and then add milk, sugar, drained rice and mix well.
  • Set it on the 'STEAM' mode for 25 minutes. Open after pressure releases fully.
  • Ensure that the valve is in SEALED position.
  • Open after pressure is fully released. Add cardamom, optional fried cashews and serve.

Pressure Cooker Method

  • In a tall 3L cooker, add the milk and ghee. Let it come to a boil.
  • Now, add the drained rice, sugar and close the cooker.
  • Cook in low flame for 30 minutes. There is no need to count whistles, just ensure it is in low flame.
  • Open after 20 minutes. Add cardamom, optional fried cashews and serve.


  • Fry cashews in ghee and add to the payasam


  • For this recipe, full fat milk and white sugar ( or raw sugar ) is best suited.
  • This payasam is SWEET! I would reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup or even 1/3 cup  if you do not like your desserts very sweet. 
  • The consistency is thick for this payasam as it cools. The milk is reduced as well. So, if you prefer a more flowy consistency, add about 1 cup of boiled milk after it is fully cooked. You may need to adjust the sugar later.
  • If you have whole matta rice, pulse it in a blender ( not into a powder) and use.
  • The same recipe can be used for other short-grained rice like seeraga samba, ponni or sona masoori. For a long grain rice like basmati, reduce the cooking time by five minutes.
  • To make it as a ‘Kheer’ add slivered almonds, saffron along with the cardamom and use broken basmati rice. 

STEAM mode in an Instant Pot

When I started making paysams and kheer in the Instant Pot, I used the PORRIDGE mode. This works great but I have had days when it gets BURN error. A bit of researching around and I discovered the STEAM mode.

So, in an Instant Pot there are only three main functions – Saute, Manual/Pressure Cook and Keep Warm. All the other buttons are functions of these. So, in that sense STEAM mode is the same as the PRESSURE COOK mode. The key difference is the pressure level. In this mode, the Instant Pot cooks in high pressure for 10 minutes and then for the remaining duration, cooks in lower pressure. In PORRIDGE mode, the entire cooking happens in high pressure. This may lead to a burn if you do not use a lot of liquid however in the STEAM mode, there is NO chance of a burn!

Please leave a comment below if you made this recipe, have any questions or thoughts! Your comment will help me learn more about your preferences and will help other readers.

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  • Reply
    August 21, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    5 stars
    Can I just triple the ingredients in the recipe to make 9 servings?
    Should the instant pot duration be changed too?

    • Reply
      August 23, 2021 at 10:11 am

      Yes, you can. If you use 3 litres of milk, use 1 cup of broken rice and anywhere between 2 to 2.5 cups of sugar. No changes in timings for IP – the same 25 minutes work.

      • Reply
        September 16, 2021 at 12:26 pm

        5 stars
        Hi Archana, I tried your recipe in an instant pot and it turned out awesome. Thank for the recipe ?

  • Reply
    Priya Srinivasan
    August 27, 2021 at 12:46 am

    5 stars
    Payasam looks inviting Archana! I have made nei payasam with matta would love to try this some time! Thanks for telling us the steam option in IP !

  • Reply
    August 30, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    5 stars
    Just made this payasam today and it was utterly delicious. I used half cup sugar and it was the perfect amount of sweetness for us. Thanks again Arch!

    • Reply
      September 6, 2021 at 10:23 am

      thank you vani 🙂

      • Reply
        April 9, 2022 at 1:38 pm

        Hi Arch, I made this payasam for my parents today and they Loveddd it! Thank you for sharing such delicious recipes!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    5 stars
    I made this payasam using instant pot today and it tasted awesome.It was a big hit with my family too. Thanks a lot for your recipe Archana

  • Reply
    September 22, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Arch trying this today and my IP started leaking milk all the way halfway through that spout below the lid..what am I doing wrong?

    • Reply
      September 23, 2021 at 10:27 pm

      Hi Krithi, Did you make with the same amount of milk in this recipe? I am using a 6Qt IP here. Sorry this happened.

      • Reply
        September 24, 2021 at 3:31 am

        Ahaaa I just checked and my IP is only 5.7litres! Any chance you know how to modify for this size? I completed the dish in pressure cooker but the cooking time to get the caramel flavour was insanely looong and we thulped it in less than ten minutes!

        • Reply
          September 24, 2021 at 10:17 am

          Hi Krithi, 5.7 litres is 6qt. That can certainly hold 4 cups of milk. So, if it has overflown – may be the gasket was not fit properly? Glad to know you enjoyed it 🙂 thank you.

  • Reply
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    October 4, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    […] Kerala Paal Payasam in IP […]

  • Reply
    October 15, 2021 at 7:58 am

    5 stars
    Hi Archana,

    I have instant pot viva model and it doesn’t have steam mode. Can I use the pressure cook mode in this by reducing the time? Or could you please suggest any other option to make the payasam in instant pot.

    Thank you

    • Reply
      October 21, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      Sorry, I missed this. Try the pressure cook mode, low pressure setting.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2022 at 12:03 am

    Tried payasam came out well. I hv a doubt I just got new ip this is the first dish made. In the steam mode for 25 mins will the pressure whistle come like cooker?

    • Reply
      January 10, 2022 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Indu, no in a IP, there will be no whistles like a pressure cooker. Ensure that you have the vent on sealing. Steam mode is still a pressure cook mode, but in lower heat.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Can u clarify wats steam mode sorry stil not clear – do u mean low pressure for 10 mins ??

    • Reply
      July 5, 2022 at 8:40 pm

      if you are using an INstant POt, there is a mode called steam. if you are using a regular pressure cooker – follow the instructions for it.

    • Reply
      September 9, 2022 at 2:55 pm

      Hi Arch ,
      I’m making this the second time round just goes to say how good your recipe I!! Perfect clear instructions extremely easy procedure – Family loved it ! Thank you for sharing your recipe & spreading the JOY!!definitely going to check out more recipes from you!
      Regds Rekha

  • Reply
    Aarthi Varada
    December 14, 2022 at 3:28 am

    5 stars
    Hi Arch
    Love this payasam and I have made this quite a few times. I have earned praise for it and all that goes to you. This time I made it in my new instant pot pro 6 qt but I didn’t have similar results. I put steam( had a choice between high temp and low temp. I chose high temp). Still it was very flowy when it came out. Rice and milk were separate. I put sauté on low temp for 10 minutes and hoped it would thicken but it didn’t. Would you know why? Thank you once again

    • Reply
      December 23, 2022 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Aarthi, thanks. Did you use same amount in a 6qt? I use a 6qt only. Try with low temp on steam and see if it works.

      • Reply
        Aarthi Varada
        December 31, 2022 at 1:29 pm

        5 stars
        The reply button didn’t work for me Arch?anyway I used a 6 qt pot. I will try low temp on steam. Do you think increasing time will work? Instead of 25 can I put 35 and try?

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