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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.