Pal payasam is an Indian rice pudding perfumed with cardamom. This stovetop pal payasam uses evaporated milk for a warm and decadent dessert that comes together quickly.
What rice to use for pal payasam?
The short answer is that you should use whatever rice you have stocked in your home for rice pudding. However, I do have a few suggestions depending on how you like your payasam. If, like me, you prefer a payasam with a delicate and floral taste, then use basmati or jasmine rice. If you prefer a creamier rice pudding, opt for a short grain rice variety which contains more starch that creates a thicker consistency.
Payasam with cooked rice
Cooking rice in water first before adding the milk is the easiest way to cook rice pudding quickly. When milk is added, you'll have to watch over the stove to make sure the milk doesn't burn and cook the rice at low temperatures. You don't face that problem if you do the initial cook with water instead.
Leftover or cooked rice makes for great rice pudding. Rice pudding calls for rice that is "overcooked" and is soft and mushy. So simply add your previously cooked rice to half the amount of water called for in this recipe to create a mushy rice for the pudding. If you have overcooked rice to start with, then even better. Then follow the recipe as stated to transform your leftovers into a delicious and creamy dessert.
Evaporated milk creates a decadent pal payasam quickly
This recipe intentionally uses evaporated milk to create a creamy pal payasam without waiting for the milk to thicken. Evaporated milk has 60% of the water removed from the milk so you don't have to wait at the stove to reduce and thicken your milk.
Adding the evaporated milk once the rice is cooked through at the end helps ensure that the milk doesn't burn and creates a creamy pal payasam. The best part is that evaporated milk is a shelf stable and can sit in your pantry for you to use at anytime. However, if you opt to use regular milk, simply simmer for a longer period of time until the milk thickens. I also opt not to use condensed milk as it is evaporated milk with loads of sugar, which makes for an ultra sweet rice pudding. I like to control the sweetness and add sugar to my liking.
Tips for making the best pal payasam
- Wash the rice before cooking it - Removing excess starches and residues ensures that the rice cooks evenly and properly.
- Cook rice in water before adding milk - Lots of recipes call for cooking the rice in milk. However, I prefer to cook the rice in water before adding the milk. Water doesn't need attending like milk which can burn easily. This allows me to walk away from the rice when it's cooking.
- Use evaporated milk for a rich pal payasam - Evaporated milk has 60% of water removed from the milk. This makes evaporated milk a thicker and creamier addition to your payasam than regular milk. In addition, it doesn't require long simmering like regular milk to thicken. I also prefer evaporated milk to condensed milk. Condensed milk has a lot a lot of sugar added which leads to a payasam that is overly sweet.
- Add crunchy toppings and tangy ones for variety - Adding toasted nuts creates crunch to contrast the creamy payasam. Adding plump and tart raisins cuts the sweetness and decadence. The two create different textures and flavors for a well balanced dessert.
- Stir the bottom of the saucepan once milk is added to ensure that the milk doesn't burn.
- Serve pal payasam warm - This tip is more of a personal preference. This dish is traditionally served warm. However, if you prefer cold payasam, I suggest adding a bit more sugar and adding the toppings before serving. Adding more sugar is necessary as the perceived sweetness diminishes when the dish is cold. Adding nuts/raisins at the end ensures the nuts don't get soft before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Payasam stores very well in the in the freezer. Simply store the payasam or rice pudding without the raisin and nut toppings and it will store in the freezer for a 1-2 months.
Rice pudding will last in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer without the toppings for 1-2 months.
You can make this with alternative milks like oat milk or coconut milk.
This recipe uses basmati rice, a long grain rice, for its floral flavor. However, you can alternatively use a short grain rice as well which will yield a creamy payasam.
Yes! You can substitute tapioca, also called sabudana in Indian grocery stores, for rice.