This is the recipe for Payasam [pah-yah-sum].

Payasam is a Tamil dessert. Traditionally it is served at auspicious occasions such as weddings, festivals, house moving ceremonies etc. So it’s kinda like a ‘holy dessert’.

My mum  (ammah) will also make it for us if we have an upset stomach.

There are  many different variations of payasam. I will track down the others soon.

Interestingly enough ammah said as we were making this –  that all these recipes will be forgotten with her generation. My reply: ‘that’s exactly why I am doing this project!’.


INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup sago (I used tapioca – which some people say is the same thing. I am not convinced.)
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (for vegan version use a substitute)
  • 1/4 cup vermicelli
  • 100g tablespoons condensed milk (use soy milk instead for a vegan version and an extra tablespoon of sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (put more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8-10 cashew nuts
  • 8-10 raisins
  • 3-4 cardamom pods crushed with pestle and mortar
  • 1 cups of water [sorry previously i had put 3 cups water]


  1. Break the vermicilli into finger size pieces.
  2. Temper the vermicelli, cashew and raisins in ghee till the vermicelli starts turning golden. This should ta ke about a minute or two.


  3. Bring water to boil in a pot and add the sago. Reduce the heat a little bit and stir the sago every minute or so. If you don’t stir the sago it will become a thick sticky mixture which you don’t want.
  4. It should take about 10 min until the sago is cooked. You will know if it’s cooked when the sago becomes soft
  5. Add the condensed milk,  sugar, salt, cashew, raisins and vermicelli and keep stirring for about 3-4 minutes
  6. Add the crushed cardamom.


  7. Turn off heat
  8. The liquid will quickly evaporate and the payasam will become quite thick. It should be served runny and can be as runny as you want it to be.  So if you are you like me and find that it’s too thick, just add boiling water to the mixture. I prefer adding 1/2 cup soy milk/milk.


3 thoughts on “Payasam

    • Sorry for this very very delayed reply. I followed my recipe again and realise I got the water amount wrong. Should be 1 cup. Thanks for visiting My Tamil Kitchen.

  1. Pingback: Pineapple… porridge? | Snacksgiving

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