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A bowl of kheer
Alternative namesPayasam, Payesh, Ksheeram, Doodhpak
Place of originSouth Asia
Main ingredientsRice, milk, sugar, cardamom, jaggery, saffron, pistachios or almonds
VariationsBarley kheer, Kaddu ki kheer, paal (milk), payasam, payesh, chhanar payesh (payesh made with chhana or paneer)
Food energy
(per serving)
249 kcal (1043 kJ)

Kheer, also known as payasam or payesh, is a pudding/porridge popular in the Indian subcontinent, usually made by boiling milk, sugar or jaggery, and rice. It can be additionally flavored with dried fruits, nuts, cardamom and saffron. Instead of rice, it may contain cracked wheat, vermicelli (sevai) or tapioca (sabudana).[1]

In Southern India, it is known as payasam and it is made in various ways. The most popular versions are the ones made with rice and vermicelli (semiya). [1]


The word kheer is derived from the Sanskrit word for milk, kshira (क्षीर). Kheer is also the archaic name for sweet rice pudding. The word pāyasam used in South Indian circles is related to the Sanskrit payas, 'rice'.


It is said to have originated initially in South India thousands of years ago. The story is titled “The Legend of Chessboard” in Kerala, an old sage in the form of Krishna challenged the king of Ambalapuzha (Chess enthusiasts) to play chess. To motivate the Sage, the king offered anything that the sage would name. The sage modestly asked just for a few grains of rice but under one condition: the king has to put a single grain of rice on the first chess square and double it on every consequent one.

Krishna (the Sage) won the game and as mentioned the king started placing the grains. As he stacked them, he was shocked to see the number grow exponentially. In the end, the number came up to trillions. Krishna reveals himself and asks the king to provide Payasam to every pilgrim who comes to his temple there. The Ambalapuzha Krishna temple still follows this and it's located in Kerala’s Alappuzha district.

According to the food historian K. T. Achaya, kheer or payasam, as it is known in southern India, was a popular dish in ancient India. First mentioned in ancient Indian literature, it was a mixture of rice, milk and sugar, a formula that has endured for over two thousand years. Payasam was also a staple Hindu temple food, in particular, and it is served as Prasāda to devotees in temples.[2]


See also


  1. ^ a b "Best Rated Puddings in the World".
  2. ^ "A truly international dessert". Hindustan Times. 3 October 2009.