5 Delicious South Indian Payasams You Must Try

Let’s just agree that no amount of brownies, mousses, cakes or tarts can match the magic of Indian desserts. Loaded with sinful sweetness and enriched with the goodness of nuts, fruits and aromatic agents like kewra and saffron in milk, Indian dessert indeed are a treat to the taste buds. No wonder any Indian celebration or festivity is incomplete without them. Mention Indian desserts, and one immediately pictures a bowl full of rice or vermicelli cooked in milk, finished with a handful of crunchy nuts and dry fruits. That’s right, kheer for the northern region and payasam for the south, this bowl of ultimate decadence is all you need to sate your sweet tooth and celebrate almost all auspicious occasions. 

Payasam is said to be derived from the word peeyusham which means nectar or ambrosia, and is also the Sanskrit word for milk. While people in Kerala and Tamil Nadu call it payasam, the variant in Karnataka is known as payasa. But there’s always a confusion regarding the difference between kheer and payasam. Let’s find out how are the two different, or are they not? 

Kheer v/s Payasam 

Kheer, payasam, payesh or payasa, these are all simply the regional varieties of the same dessert. While in Kerala, payasam gets a dedicated space in the traditional thali during festivals like Onam in its feast popularly known as Sadhya. But did you know that for ages, payasam was served on the banana leaf as a side dish instead of at the end of the meal? In many homes, it's still served just before the final course. In Tamil Nadu, the sweet treat is served during most festivals like Gokulashtami and others. The process of making the traditional payasam is also similar to kheer, but the ingredients may vary. Payasam includes ingredients like jaggery and coconut milk instead of sugar and milk that is used predominantly in the North Indian dessert. One rarely would find a lot of kheer varieties, but payasam has a number of them.

Types Of Payasams 

Right from the traditional recipes that include rice, vermicelli and moong dal to other varieties like thengai payasam, rava payasam, etc., one can get tired of trying but the options may not end. If you thinking to try a recipe of payasam at home but are confused with the many varieties, we’ve got a complete cheat sheet.

1. Paal Payasam 

Your best bet if you are trying to make it for the first time. Paal payasam is a classic one made with just three traditional ingredient- rice, milk and sugar, though you can always give your own variation, add in some nuts and dry fruits or go the Kerala way and make it with red rice like the Amabalapuzha Paal Payasam.

2. Poori Payasam 

Also known as Appe payasam in some parts of Karnataka, this one is a unique payasam recipe wherein the pooris are almost fried to a biscuit-like consistency and then crumbled into the paysam. This leads to the payasam becoming thick as the pooris almost integrate with milk. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? 

3. Semiya Payasam 

Another one from the simpler lot, semiya or vermicelli payasam is also very popular across south India wherein it replaces rice in the traditional recipe.  

4. Chakka Pradhaman 

Pradhaman and payasam have a slight difference which lies in the boiling process and ingredients. While payasams are usually made with milk, in a single boiling process, pradhamans are made with jaggery and coconut milk and are usually double boiled. Chakka or jackfruit pradhaman is a dish from Kerala, and comes with a hint of spices.   

5. Parippu Pradhaman

A lentil-based pradhaman, this one blends coconut milk with split yellow moong dal to result in a slightly thick dessert that is wholesome and delicious at the same time.


So, which one are you cooking next?