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Indian Rice Pudding (Payesh)

Indian Rice Pudding (Payesh)

Raj Chakraberti
Frequently served at the end of Indian buffets, payesh is a special occasion food in Bengal. On birthdays in the West, cake is eaten but in Bengal this Indian rice pudding is king. There is a Hindu rite of passage known as Annaprashan which translates to “eating of food” or “eating of rice.” It's held on an auspicious date to celebrate the child's first introduction to solid food. Payesh is also ubiquitous on occasions like weddings, but fortunately, it's not necessary to wait until a birthday or wedding to enjoy this dish.


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup rice*
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 12 almonds
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 4 cardamom pods


  • In a large post or dutch oven, bring the milk to a boil and reduce heat so that the milk simmers. Cook, uncovered, until the milk has reduced by about a quarter, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the rice and bay leaves and cover with a lid. After 15 minutes add in sugar, almonds, raisins, and cardamom. Replace lid and stir occasionally to ensure that the rice doesn't stick.
  • After fifteen minutes begin checking occasionally to see if the rice is cooked. It is done when the rice grains are plump and tender and the consistency is thick but not sludgy. Serve warm or hot.


*Leftover rice can be used. Simply add it after the milk has reduced fifty percent.
As with most Indian recipes, Payesh can be embellished with raisins, nuts, and spices.
Other variations include vermicelli instead of rice.
Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Radhika of Just Homemade

Raj Chakraberti

Raj Chakraberti grew up in the Southern US (Tennessee, Alabama), and is of Indian ancestry. His interest in cooking grew after he moved to New York City in 2002. Being away from his Mom’s Indian homecooking resulted in furiously looking for ways to replicate the foods he grew up with. It was during this time he came to appreciate the books of Madhur Jaffrey and Chitrita Banerji among others. Raj has written for Alimentum Journal, a Literary food journal, Little India Magazine (NYC), Khabar (Atlanta), and India Abroad (NYC).

Photographer Mark Ferri

Mark Ferri is a graduate of Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. He believes in a simple, direct approach that captures the natural beauty and appetite appeal of food. Mark celebrates a life-long passion for food by frequently exploring new restaurants in New York and in Europe, and loves to cook and entertain at his home in the Hudson Valley. Learn more about Mark on his website: http://www.markferriphoto.com/

Stylist Leslie Orlandini

Leslie Orlandini is a chef and an accomplished food stylist in print and television. She has been nominated for both James Beard and Emmy awards and is a veteran of thousands of cooking shows and segments. You can learn more about her through her website: http://leslieorlandini.com/