South Indian Coconut Rice Pudding

with Cardamom & Raisins


My craving for a hearty rice pudding a few weeks back led to this gorgeous dish!

Rice puddings are a very common snack/ dessert in Indian communities. My mum would cook us Indian rice pudding regularly with spices and toasted nuts. Southern Indian rice pudding also known as Payasam is similar in ways to the Kheer/ Indian rice pudding. Traditional payasam is made with rice and is a tad milky in consistency. There is a variety of ways to cook this dish and local communities also make a delicious version with broken or cracked wheat.

I have eaten ‘Thengai paal Payasam’ at weddings and pujas in the past; Coconut rice pudding is full of flavour, decadent and almost always makes me go for second helpings! Topped with fried pistachios, cashew nuts and puffy raisins; this pudding is a mouthful of gorgeousness. My favourite are the raisins so asking mum to add extra raisins was the done thing. I have used jaggery to cook the Payasam which lends a lovely sweetness but also gives it that caramelly colour. Palm sugar or unrefined brown sugar would be a perfect alternative.


  1. In a wide heavy bottom sauce pan add the rice, full fat milk, coconut milk over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir frequently. Simmer and add the jaggery & cardamom powder. Cook for an hour stirring often scraping the bottom & sides of the pan making sure it doesn’t stick. Once the rice is cooked and the pudding is a creamy consistency turn the heat off and cover with a lid. Leave to cool slightly.


  2. In a frying pan heat the butter and add cashew nuts and brown slightly, add the pistachios and raisins. Fry for a few seconds. Pour the fried nuts along with the butter over the Payasam & serve warm.

  • Beth

    This looks delicious! I was wondering if I could use just coconut milk instead of both the full-fat milk and coconut?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you! It gives a richer creamier flavour to add both. You can use just coconut milk if you prefer although adjust cooking times as you want to make sure it doesnt split while the rice is cooking.

      • Beth

        Ah that’s brilliant, thank you. I’m vegan and am always looking for new recipes to try and this one looks as though it would make a perfect vegan dish with a few alterations. Thanks again 🙂

  • Tania Ghosal

    Hi Maunika! I am making this today but I feel the coconut milk ( which I extracted at home ) has split! Any remedy or do I have to throw away the entire thing ☹️

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      If you extract fresh coconut milk you’ll need the richer creamier one for the pudding. The recipe uses tinned which is creamy and helps to keep the consistency right.


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