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.
Kerala Paal Payasam in an Instant Pot & Pressure Cooker
- 1 litre milk
- ⅓ 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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