Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Recipe: Palpayasam

Let us have a sweet ending to our 100th episode (and start the next 100!) with a special recipe for Palpayasam. Palpayasam is known as the king of payasams. The palpayasam of Ambalapuzha is world famous, though I have never had an opportunity to taste the delicacy. The Kerala palpayasam is any day more delicious than palpayasams of any other region.

There is an interesting story about the palpayasam, which my husband relates to our guests whenever we serve the delicacy. The story is about an elaborate Sadhya (feast) where many distinguished guests were gathered. Kunjan Nambiar, Kerala’s renowned poet, who was famous for his ready wit, was among the guests. After having his fill of all the special dishes served, Nambiar announced, “I am full, I cannot have anything more.” The king, who wanted to have a dig at Nambiar, ordered for palpayasam. In came palpayasam and, unable to refuse the king, Nambiar had a go at it. The King asked, “Nambiar, you said you were full and can have no more of any thing. How is it that you had so much of palpayasam?” Quick came Nambiar’s reply, “Your Majesty, imagine a huge gathering of people with not an inch to spare. Don’t they make way if the Maharaja is announced? Similarly, when palpayasam goes in, the other items in the stomach move aside to accommodate it.” Needless to mention, palpayasam is the “Maharaja” of payasams.

The Kerala palpayasam gets its special taste from the thickening of the milk, sugar and rice in vast urulis.

It is also special in the sense that there are no added flavours like cardamom or saffron and garnishing like dry fruits, etc. In its simplicity lies its deliciousness!

The payasam is made in large urulis or charakkus and is stirred with long handled ladles known as chattukam which measure many metres in length. As I promised in my post on Idichu Pizhinja Payasam, I got pictures of these when I was in my village last month.

The first picture here is an uruli, currently lying unused in our ancestral home. The second is one of people actually making the payasam at my nephew's upanayanam there last month.

Though the original version called for preparation in small urulis, I have an easy recipe to prepare the payasam in a pressure cooker without the hassles of constant stirring and the extra care to not burn the milk at the bottom or boil it over.

Special thanks for teaching me this easy method goes to my aunt, Vasantha Chithi, who painstakingly explained to me the minute details of this method of preparing this payasam, which has never gone wrong. Thanks once again, chithi.

Here is the recipe for the palpayasam.

Since I always try to simplify my recipes to suit the requirements of our younger (handsome and charming, natch) son, who lives alone and loves to cook, I am giving below the recipe for just two servings. The quantity may be increased by multiplying the ingredients to suit individual requirements. Only take care to use larger pressure cookers when increasing the quantities of ingredients.

To make the payasam with 1 litre of milk, you should use at least a 5 litre pressure cooker.


Milk (Preferably full cream): ½ litre (500ml)
Sugar: ½ cup
Rice: 2 tbsp

Sterilize the cooker by boiling 2 cups of water in it and rinse the lid and the weight with the boiled water, so that the milk won’t curdle. I do this exercise whenever I prepare milk based sweets.

Boil the milk and sugar in the pressure cooker. Wash the rice. When the milk starts boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest gas mark and add the rice. This payasam is best prepared on a gas stove, though I have prepared this payasam on an electric stove also. One needs to be very careful to control the temperature. Place a small spoon or a small shallow plate inside the cooker so that it will do the stirring action when the cooker is shut. Stir the contents well and close the cooker. Place the weight on the valve when steam escapes and allow the payasam to cook on a low heat. Switch off the stove after 20 minutes (If using an electric stove, switch off after 10 minutes). Open the cooker 30 minutes after switching off. Your delicious, creamy, Maharaja of payasam is ready.


A few points to be given special attention:

Use a cooker large enough to hold all ingredients.
Reduce the heat to the minimum after placing the weight on the valve.
Switch off only after 20 mnts.
Open the cooker 30 mnts after switching off.


Asha said...

Happy 100th post! I recently hit that too, last week to be precise!:))
Pal Payasam is a great start for 101!

Ammupatti said...

Thanx Asha!
Wish you many more 100s.

bee said...

wow. that is the easiest recipe for palpayasam ever. will surely try this.

meena said...

Thanks for the authentic payasam recipe...You have reaally given an elaborate description about the payasam and so I am sure when I try it out, I will never go wrong with the taste..

Ammupatti said...

Hi bee and Meena

I am just waiting to hear your experience.

Jayashree said...

This sounds like a surefire way to make good pal payasam. Iam definitely going to try this out. WIll let you know how it turns out.
Thank you for sharing.

Nalini said...

so now u r in league with sachin tendulkar, brian lara etc. congrats.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Jayashree and Nalini

Thanks . I am waiting to hear from u

Vinod Janardhanan said...

Dear Ammupatti,

Thank you very much for the wonderful yet so simple recipe. For my wife's birthday i made the payasam and it was a great hit.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Vinod
I am sure your wife would have been thrilled. May she have many more happy birthdays and receive such wonderful gifts from you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ammupatti,

I have been hunting for such a recipe. Many thanks. Would you please clarify my following doubts
1. Can I use basmati rice?
2. If I increase the quantity of ingredients, Should I increase the cooking time in the pressure cooker also accordingly?


Ammupatti said...

Hi Mariam

The traditional Kerla Palpayasam is made with short grained raw rice, in fact broken rice, so that the rice and milk would combine to form a nice thick payasam. Basmati is long grained and moreover Basmati was not known in Kerala until very recently.There is no harm in trying with Basmati, however. Let me know the result.

There is no need to increase the cooking time, if you increase the quantity of ingredients.

Pooja said...

Thanks a lot for this simple recipe of palpayasam.. will surely give a try..

Anonymous said...

Dear ammupatti..thank you so much for sharing your recipies in such an interesting manner. My mom is a big fan of your site and she introduced me to you. I have made this payasam quite a few times now, and it has always been lip-smackingly delicious! Thank you so much!


Ammupatti said...

Hi Gauri

I am glad you could get the appreciation of every one.

Best wishes

Shree said...

Hello AmmuPaatti,

Nice to see recipes which are reformulated for those of us outside India. Since that was your intention, I wanted some solution for this.

I tried the Regular Milk available here in the US. It has the cream but the payasam has the smell and taste of raw milk which I dont remember having tasted back in India. Instead I tried sweetened condensed milk which doesnt have the raw taste and smell but doesnt have cream:(

Have you had any feedback on this?


Ammupatti said...

Hi Shree

I have also prepared palpayasam in the US using the full cream milk available there with satisfactory results. Did you follow my method of preparation?

Better luck next time and let me know of the results.

Best wishes

Shree said...

I purchased the Grade A milk available in Kroger. It is not reduced fat milk and seems to have a thick texture after preparation. However, I do get the smell and taste of raw milk.

Isnt this the full cream milk you are referring to?

Ammupatti said...

Hi Shree

I cannot understand why the milk would smell and taste raw after it has been boiled for so long.I can only say follow my recipe exactly as given once more. Happy Cooking!

Lakshmi Navneeth said...

Dear Ammupatti,

Thanks for your wonderful recipe. I was wondering if I can use cream along with milk to add to the thickness. I am planing to try this tomorrow for gokulashtami.

Best wishes,

Ammupatti said...

Hi Lakshmi

You can definitely add anything that would enhance the taste, like cream or saffron, etc. However, the traditional payasam recipe is what I have given.

Happy Gokulashtami.

Gayathri said...

Dear Ammupatti,
Thanks for a wonderful and easy recipe. I made Paal Payasam for neivedhyam yesterday and it turned out great. I loved the pink color of the payasam especially.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ammupatti,

I followed your recipe for Pal Payasam today. It turned out quite well but there were a few things that I would do differently next time. I made it on an electric stove and left it for just 10 min as you had mentioned in low heat. The payasam did not thicken much when I opened the cooker. I think the heat level needs some experimenting and I will leave it on for longer next time. Thanks for an easy recipe, though.
- Aparna

Ammupatti said...

Hi Aparna

Be careful when you are using an electric stove. Long cooking might either burn the payasam or the pressure build up may be too high. So make sure the temperature is just enough to keep the contents boiling.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Dear Ammupatti,
Can you please let me know where i can get urulis in kerala or else where. is there a good place.


Ammupatti said...

Hi Anonymous

Urulis are available in all major cities in Kerala and also in selected shops in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, etc.

There is a place by name Mannar, between Kottayam and Ernakulam, which is famous for bronze items like, urulis, vilakkus, etc.

Best wishes

ScorpionGal said...


I tried this recipe and it was a big hit, both in my house and in my office.. It was pretty easy to prepare as well.. Thx a lot. Will try again and again.. :)


bee said...

dear ammupatti,

after all these years, i tried this recipe. it was fabulous. i added coconut sugar (tastes like brown sugar) instead of sugar, though. it was fabulous.

Lakshmy said...

This is my go to recipe for the last 5 years...everyone raves about it!!
Thanks Ammupatti!