Payasam was always the main sweet dish at Hindu temples and part of their celebrations. It was mainly served in sadhya in marriage functions as well as in Nair community marriages. Kheer originated in the kitchens of imperial Muslim rulers of India and is an important sweet delicacy for Muslims of India, especially during Eid or any other celebrations. Islamic food culture later spread to other Indian cultures and got so popular that some dishes like kheer or its varieties are popularly prepared during Hindu festivals and special occasions and served at temples. Other terms like Payasam or payesh (used in the Bengal region) are derived from the Sanskrit word Payasa or Payasam, which also means “milk”. It is prepared using milk, rice, ghee, sugar/jaggery, and khoya but is less thick than original kheer. Some also add a little bit of heavy cream for a richer taste. It is often garnished using almonds, cashews, raisins and pistachios. There is one more popular version of North Indian kheer, prepared during festivals and havan in Varanasi by using only milk, rice, ghee, sugar, cardamom, dried fruit, and kesar (saffron milk). It is an essential dish in many Hindu feasts and celebrations. While the dish is most often made with rice, it can also be made with other ingredients, such as vermicelli (semiya in South India, seviyan, seviyaan, sayviah, or other spellings) or tapioca (locally known as sabudana). In Kashmir, firni is made with semolina (suji), milk, saffron, sugar, dry fruits, etc.
- 250 mL (1 cup) long grain white rice
- 125 mL (½ cup) white sugar
- 65 mL (¼ cup) sultanas (raisins)
- 65 mL (¼ cup) slivered blanched almonds
1. Bring the milk to a boil.
2. Add rice and cook slowly until thick (about 20 minutes).
3. Stir in the sugar, sultanas (raisins), and the ground seeds from the cardamom pods (cook a further 5 minutes).
4. Stir in the almonds and rosewater, and cover until ready to serve.