Traditional Milk Payasam

Payasam, similar to rice pudding, is made with tapioca and sometimes broken pieces of vermicilli boiled in milk and sugar. It is typically served as dessert after vegetarian meals but I remember my mom used to make this for me when I was sick and refused to eat anything but it. I haven’t made payasam in awhile mainly because until recently I was the only one that liked it. Now my little ones have started to enjoy eating traditional dessert such as payasam and kesari (in small portions of course) after our traditional vegetarian meals every Tuesday and Fridays.  The payasam my husband used to bring home for me from the store as part of vegetarian meals just doesn’t taste as wholesome as the ones made at home — Perhaps because I like to cook my payasam in alot of milk for a thicker and creamier texture. Below is my recipe for payasam. It is so simple to make and tastes wonderful!

Milk Payasam RECIPE


  • 1/2 cup sago (tapioca pearls)
  • 3/4 cups cold water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 10 cashews, halved
  • 20 raisins
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom


  1. Rinse sago in cold water and then soak for half hour prior to cooking. This step is not necessary but will be beneficial in reducing cooking time.
  2. In the meantime heat 1 tsp of the ghee and fry the cashews and raisins until golden brown. Set aside.
  3. Bring water to a rolling boil in a small pot. Keep the stove at medium heat.
  4. Add the sago. Cook while stirring every so often so that the sago does not clump together.
  5. Once the sago is soft and translucent and the water has been absorbed, add the milk and sugar.
  6. Let the payasam mixture come to a boil and cook until the sago is transparent.
  7. Add the fried cashews, raisins, and leftover 2 tsp of ghee and cook for a minute longer.
  8. Let cool slightly before serving.



  • Keep in mind that the payasam will thicken considerably once cooled. If a thinner consistency is preferred, add a little bit of water or additional milk before serving.
  • If desired, broken bits of vermicilli can be added. Fry 1/8 cup of vermicilli until golden and add to payasam in Step 7 and let cook until the vermicilli is soft.


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