"The Hindu Mythology states interesting facts about Ambalapuzha  and Guruvayoor Paal Paayasam about how it happened to become Lord Krishna's favourite dish.Once Lord Krishna in disguise of a Sage challenged the King of Ambalappuzha in a game of Chess. The lord claimed that the King should pay him 13 rice grains if he wins but on condition that the quantity be doubled as the dice advances each square. He outwitted the King and his subjects as the final quantity of rice that the King owed to Lord Krishna exhausted the Rice granary of the Kingdom. The King realized that he was challenged none other than Lord Krishna and prostrated before him. The Lord pacified him by saying that the King can relieve himself of his debt by serving Rice and Milk porridge to people for free whenever they visited Ambalappuzha temple. It is prepared till date at the temple premises with utmost devotion. That is how Paal Paayasam came into exixtence. 

Paal Paayasam has always been my top most favourite of all paayasams and I had nothing less than 3 servings whenever my mother prepared it. I simply love the taste of the slow stove cooked condensed milk paayasam with no additives. The Paayasam by itself is flavourful as the name indicates  does not involve the use of cardamom or saffron. Paal Paayasam finds a prominent place in South Indian wedding menus in ( Kerala & Tamilnadu) and also during festive celebrations like Deepavali, Krishna Jayanthi, Navarathri and Onam. 

There was this cookery show of  Sri Arusuvai Arasu Natarajan, I remember watching long ago  with my Mother. I vividly remember him mentioning about the ways of preparing authentic Paal Paayasam and its history being connected to the Kerala cuisine. He also mentioned that the current trend of adding cardamom and other additives to Paal Paayasam has evolved based on change in taste preferences of people. 

The age old methods involved slow cooking of Raw Rice or Poha, Milk and Sugar (Cheeni or Panjasara and not Sarkarai) in Brass vessels. If at all an additive was added , then it was Sukku/ Chukku ( Dry Ginger) and was done to aid digestion. Sarkarai in classic Tamizh refers to Jaggery and not table sugar.My Mother and MIL still follow the age old practice by slow cooking raw rice kernels with milk. This is the best way to prepare Paal Paaysam but requires patience.  

We had a guest for lunch last week and I decided to include Paal Paayasam in the menu. But wanted to try the Kerala rice ( Palakkad Maata Arisi/ Ari) instead of the raw rice this time.  I was a little unsure about cooking Kerala rice and I immediately wrote to Nags. She was sweet enough to give me cooking tips for the recipe and I owe her a big thanks for her timely help. Thank you Nags. The recipe was wonderful and tasted close to Guruvayoor Paayasam.

Preparation Time : 1 hr                  Cooking time : 45 minutes                 Serves : 4


Milk ................................. 1 litre + 1/2 cup

Brown/ White Sugar .......... 1/2 cup
Kerala Rice/ Raw Rice ....... 1/4 cup
Ghee ................................ 1 tsp
Water ............................... 1/2 to 3/4 cup


  • Break the raw rice into kernels in a mixer grinder. It should be done in two quick rotations. Soak this in half cup of water+ half cup of milk and set aside an hour before you start. 
  • Pressure cook the rice and when it cools down gently mix it with 1 tsp of ghee and set aside.

  • Boil the Milk in a thick bottomed vessel. I use an AMC cookware for all the Paayasam varieties and it works best for me.
  • When the milk surfaces, simmer the flame and gently drop a stainless steel spoon into the boiling milk and continue to cook on low flame. This prevents the milk from overflowing while you cook continuously.

  • Ensure to scrape off the cream that collects on the sides of the vessel and push it into cooking milk. 
  • As the Milk continues to cook it starts condensing and the volume reduces and thickens. Thickening starts  10 minutes after you start the slow cooking. When the milk has condensed to almost 3/4 litre add the sugar and continue to cook. You will slowly get a nice caramelized flavour resulting from the Milk proteins and sugar being heated. You will also notice that the colour of the milk changes to cream. 
  • Continue to cook till the mixture thickens further and then add the mashed rice mixture to the milk and mix well. 
  • Continue cooking till you clearly notice the rice floating on top of the Paayasam as seen in the picture. If you switch off the flame you should still find the rice dispersed . If not, the rice sinks and you have to cook a little further.

  • Once done switch off the flame. Serve hot or cold. I like it both ways. 

  • Kerala Rice takes a long time to cook. So it is best to cook and soften it before adding it to the Paayasam. As told by Nags.
  • When you use raw rice, first fry the rice with 1tsp of ghee till you get a toasted flavour and then break it into kernels in a mixer. You need not cook this rice separately. Just add it to the boiled milk and cook till you achieve the end point.
  • Paal Paayasam can also be prepared with Basmathi. Follow the same Raw rice procedure.
  • I have used brown sugar in the Paayasam. Hence the brown coloured tint. When you cook Kerala rice with  white sugar, the resulting Paayasam will have a pink tint.
  • Acceptability of sweetness varies from person to person. Add sugar accordingly.
  • I usually don't suggest adding cardamom or saffron because all of our Paayasam varieties call for it. However, if you like it that way then go ahead. 
  • I give a gentle reminder to anyone who makes Paal Paayasam to serve my share before they add the cardamom powder :). 


  1. so authentic and so yummy!!! love this payasam!! Thanks for linking it to my event!! Looking for more yummy recipes!!



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