'Palpayasam'(Pal-milk Payasam-Kheer) is a rice pudding made of rice, milk and sugar and is one of the desserts in a traditional Kerala sadya(feast). This payasam has no additional ingredients for flavour like cardamom or roasted nuts unlike other payasams. This payasam is also made as an offering to gods in temples during religious occasions. The palpayasam of Ambalapuzha Lord Krishna temple is famous and served as an offering to the lord especially during Janmashtami the birthday of Lord Krishna.
There is an interesting legend of Ambalapuzha Palpayasam that led to payasam being served as offering to Lord Krishna(Source: Wikipedia). Once Lord Krishna appeared in the form of a saint in the court of the king who was ruling the place at that time and challenged him to a game of chess. The king accepted the challenge and told the saint that that he could ask anything he wanted as a prize in case he wins the game. The saint said that he wish to have few grains of rice, the amount to be determined using the chessboard in the following way:One grain of rice in the first square, two grains in the second square, four in the third and so on. That is, each square would be placed with double the amount of grains in the preceding one. The king accepted , though he was unhappy as the saint had requested only few grains of rice rather than riches. The game started and the king lost the game. It was time to grant the saint his prize and the king started to place grains on each square when he started to realize the true nature of the saint's wish. By the time he reached the 20th square the number had reached one million and by the 40th it reached one trillion. The total number of grains required to fill a 64 square chess board is 2^64-1 which is about 18 billion billion grains!The king realized that even his entire kingdom and his neighbouring kingdoms put together would never be able to give the offered prize. The saint now changed into his true form and told the king that he needn't pay the prize immediately but may serve palpayasam made of rice in the temple freely to his devotees every day till the debt is paid off!
The palpayasam made in Kerala differs from the one that is made outside the state. The rice used for making this payasam is 'Chemba-Pachari', reddish pink rice grains that gives the payasam a slight pink colour. Since I had only small broken grains of 'Chemba-Pachari', known as Podi Ari(Small rice)-that is commonly used for making rice gruel('kanji'), I used this for making payasam.The technique behind making this payasam is to cook rice and milk slowly at low heat for a long time that makes the milk thick. The traditional method of preparation is using 'Urulis' -large pans in which the payasam is stirred for a long period of time. As it involves a lot of time and effort I make it using a pressure-cooker.
2 tbsp uncooked rice-Chemba Pachari preferred
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp condensed milk
Note: The sugar used in US is less sweet for the same amount of sugar in India, hence you may have to vary the amount accordingly.
- In a pressure cooker add milk and sugar. Heat and bring to a boil.
- Add the washed rice to the cooker, close lid and pressure cook for about 8 minutes with weight. Alternatively, if you are cooking without weight it takes about 40-45 minutes.
- Open the lid of the cooker after the pressure has been released completely and continue cooking with constant stirring at low-medium heat. Add condensed milk and cook for few minutes more until the payasam attains a creamy consistency. Check out sweetness at this stage.The payasam has to be stirred continuously especially after the addition of condensed milk, otherwise the condensed milk being heavier would sink to the bottom and get burnt.
- Remove from heat and serve after few hours.
Other Sadya recipes: