Bengali Bhat Payasa – rich rice pudding recipe

Bengali rice pudding

After coming back from India and needing a dish to take to a party, I was inspired to make this recipe for a rich rice pudding that I had come across and cooked about 10 years ago.  I found it in the book “The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking” which is a wonderful source for Indian recipes.

The recipe is very simple but does require a lot of time – you have to reduce 2 litres of milk to about half a litre, stirring all the time – this takes about 1.5 hours and is quite a good meditative practice. I advise you not to attempt to make it 1.5 hours before the dinner you are taking it to, which is what I did when I made it a couple of weeks back. Yesterday I made it for another dinner, but this time I had plenty of time to prepare it in advance.  Instructions to make it…

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons/30g butter
  • 1/4 cup basmati rice, washed and dried
  • 2 litres whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (this can be reduced a little if you don’t like things too sweet)
  • 1/4 cup currants (I omitted these to keep a purer flavour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (I massively increased this to really stress the cardamom flavour as I had brought some organic cardamom back from India with me. I used the crushed contents of about 20 cardamom pods which gave a rich cardamom flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts to garnish (I successfully used some almonds one time and grated dark chocolate another)

Method

In a large, heavy bottomed, preferably wide pan, fry the rice in the butter until the colour darkens a little. Add milk, bring to the boil stirring. Keep boiling and stirring and stirring and stirring until you have about half the liquid – may take an hour.

Add sugar, currants (if used) and cardamom. Simmer, stirring constantly until reduced to about a quarter of the original volume – it will be thick and creamy. The volume can be difficult to judge, especially as the liquid tends to increase in volume as it bubbles, so aim for thick and creamy, not too thick.

Cool to room temperature. Put in the fridge if not used immediately.

Cardamom pods

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2 Responses

  1. Hi,

    Thank you for taking interest in our cuisine. I have a few suggestions for this recipe which is originally known as Kamini Kheer.

    1. We add 2/3 whole cardamoms and a bay leaf to the hot ghee (Unsalted butter, not salted), and then add the Basmati Rice to the pot. Discard the bay leaf only after the whole Kheer/Payash is cooked.

    2. Adding 1/2 can of Milkmaid instead of Sugar increases the taste.

    3. You don’t need to stir it constantly on Gas oven. Because here you can always moderate the heat. After frying the rice, add milk and lower the flame. You can stir occasionally.

    4. Payash is best made with a certain type of rice known as Gobindobhog.

    5. Payash can be prepared without frying it too — the rest of the procedure is same.

    6. You can use Chopped cashews also. Just add them while adding the sugar / milkmaid.

    Happy Cooking 🙂

  2. Thanks very much Waterlily, it’s really great to have some knowledgeable feedback on this recipe.
    For me, your comments on adding a bay leaf and using the Gobindobhog rice variety (although this is probably not so easy to find) are especially interesting.
    Thanks again.

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