A Journey Through 8 Varieties Of Bengali Payesh
Image Credit: Payesh | Image Credit: Freepik

Payesh, also known as kheer in other parts of India, is a creamy and delicious rice pudding that holds a special place in Bengali households. This delectable dessert is not just a culinary delight; it is deeply intertwined with the cultural and emotional fabric of Bengali society. Payesh is more than just a sweet dish; it is a symbol of love, celebration, and tradition that has been passed down through generations.  

Bengalis take immense pride in their cultural heritage, and food plays a vital role in preserving and celebrating this heritage. Payesh is a testament to this cultural richness. It is an integral part of Bengali cuisine, often prepared on special occasions and festivals. From birthdays to weddings, from Durga Puja to Poila Boishakh, payesh graces the dining tables, symbolising joy, unity, and tradition. 

Beyond special occasions and rituals, payesh also serves as a comfort food in Bengali households. It is often prepared to celebrate small victories, to comfort a loved one during times of distress, or simply to indulge in a sweet treat on a rainy day. The creamy texture and delicate sweetness of payesh have a calming effect on the soul, making it the perfect comfort food.   

Today, we will discuss the seven types of payesh cooked in Bengali households. Take a look: 

  • Chaaler Payesh  

Chaler payesh, also known as rice pudding, is a quintessential Bengali dessert that holds a special place in the hearts and palates of Bengali people. Made from fragrant Gobindobhog milk and sugar, flavoured with aromatic spices such as cardamom, and garnished with nuts like almonds and pistachios, chaler payesh is a creamy and indulgent treat that captures the essence of Bengali cuisine. It is often prepared during festivals, celebrations, and special occasions, symbolising warmth, tradition, and the sweetness of life.   

  • Shemair Payesh   

It is a Bengali delight where, instead of rice, fine vermicelli noodles are used. They are slow-cooked in sweetened milk until they become soft and silky. This dessert is infused with the same aromatic flavours of cardamom and garnished with raisins and cashews, imparting a rich and nutty taste. Shemai payesh is particularly popular during festive occasions like Eid in Bengali Muslim households, where it serves as a sweet ending to the celebratory meal.   

  • Chanar Payesh   

Chanar payesh is a delectable and creamy Bengali dessert made from freshly prepared chhena, a type of Indian cottage cheese. To create this indulgent treat, chhena is crumbled and simmered in thickened, sweetened milk, infused with fragrant cardamom, and often garnished with slivers of almonds or pistachios. Chanar payesh embodies the rich dairy heritage of Bengal and is characterised by its luxurious and velvety texture.   

  • Lauer Payesh   

Lauer payesh, a lesser-known yet delightful dessert from Bengali cuisine, features an unusual but intriguing ingredient: lau, or bottle gourd. Thin slices of bottle gourd are simmered in sweetened milk, infusing their mild, tender flavour into the creamy concoction. The result is a refreshing and delicately sweet dessert that offers a unique blend of textures and tastes. 

Lauer payesh is often garnished with slivers of nuts or raisins to add a delightful contrast to its creamy base. While it may not be as famous as some other Bengali desserts, lauer payesh represents the culinary diversity of the region, showcasing the Bengali talent for turning everyday ingredients into delightful sweet creations.   

  • Aloor Payesh   

This intriguing dish combines the humble potato with the indulgence of a creamy pudding. Thinly sliced potatoes are slow-cooked in sweetened milk, flavoured with aromatic cardamom, and garnished with nuts such as cashews or almonds. The result is a surprising blend of sweet and starchy, where the potatoes take on a rich and creamy texture while retaining a hint of their natural earthiness. 

  • Roshogollar Payesh  

Roshogolla payesh, a delightful fusion of two iconic Bengali sweets, roshogolla and payesh, combines the best of both worlds. In this delectable dessert, bite-sized roshogollas are gently simmered in sweetened milk, creating a heavenly concoction that's rich, creamy, and brimming with sweetness. The velvety texture of the milk pairs perfectly with the soft and spongy roshogollas, making it a dessert fit for celebrations and special occasions in Bengali households. It is served on several occasions and festivals. 

  • Bonder Payesh   

Bonder payesh, a delightful dessert from Bengali cuisine, is known for its simplicity and heartwarming flavors. It is prepared with roasted moong dal (split green gram) instead of rice. The roasted moong dal adds a subtle nuttiness to the dish, while sweetened milk and aromatic spices like cardamom infuse it with a comforting sweetness and fragrance. Bonder payesh is often garnished with slivers of almonds or pistachios, adding a delightful crunch to each spoonful.   

  • Sujir Payesh   

Sujir payesh, also known as semolina pudding, is a popular dessert in Bengali cuisine. This creamy and comforting sweet treat is made from semolina (suji) cooked in sweetened milk, often flavoured with cardamom, and garnished with chopped nuts like almonds or pistachios. 

Sujir payesh is cherished for its simplicity and versatility, making it a quick and easy dessert to prepare for everyday indulgence or special occasions. Its smooth and creamy texture, combined with the subtle fragrance of cardamom, creates a delightful balance of flavours that pleases the palate.