Semiya Payasam Recipe

Occasionally Payasam is eaten while celebrating at a festival or birthday but it is also given as a Prasad at Indian temples on special days. This dish can be made in under 30 minutes and it can be served hot or cold depending on your preference. It is popular throughout North and South India as a sweet, starter or dessert. Its selling price per small cup is around ₹200 rupees in Indian restaurants but it can be easily made at home. Payasam is an Indian Subcontinent dish. It's a sweet dish made up of vermicelli and other ingredients. It is known by many names such as Kheer, Phirni, Payasa, Firni, and more.

Payasam is made from milk and can be eaten as part of a healthy diet. It contains protein from the cashew nuts, the raisins are high in fiber and vitamins. The main flavour comes from cardamom which also gives a nice aroma. The dish is sweet in taste and is typically garnished with nuts, dried fruits, and spices. It has a crunchy texture from the cashews and the taste of Cardamom makes it extra delicious. Passayam is a South Indian dish that was invented around 2000 years ago in the temple town of Puri in Odisha. The original Pasayam was made from rice which later evolved into rice pudding. Pasaysam was gifted to us by the Persians. Fragrant rose water and dried fruits are abundantly added to the Persian variety of this dish. There are many varieties of Pasayam and this recipe refers to vermicelli Pasayam.


  • Vermicelli / Semiya (1/2 cup)
  • Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Milk (1/2 cup)
  • Ghee (2 tbsp)
  • Cashew Nuts (6)
  • Handful Raisins (Optional)
  • Crushed Cardomom pod (1)
  • Salt (pinch)
  • Water (2 cups)


1. Firstly you will want to heat a saucepan to low heat. After heating add a teaspoon of ghee and fry the cashews until they turn golden in colour then add raisins if you are using. After a few minutes transfer the fried cashews and raisins to a bowl. In the same pan add vermicelli to medium heat and constantly stir until golden and then put into a separate bowl.

2. Boil the water and then add the cooked vermicelli and salt. Boil for 5 minutes until it becomes soft then add sugar and the crushed cardamom. The Cooked vermicelli should turn transparent at this stage, continue to boil for 2 minutes and add the milk.

3. Turn the heat off and let it cool and thicken. Once cooled you can then garnish with the fried cashews and raisins.

4. If you have some leftover you can store it in the refrigerator for 2-4 days. You should avoid freezing this dish as the texture will be negatively affected.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Kheer and Payasam the same?

Kheer, Khir, and Indian rice pudding are often used interchangeably for the term Kheer. In the southern part of India, Kheer is called Payasam or Payasa, meaning Milk. The difference between the kheer and payasam is that Payasam is typically made with jaggery and the consistency is usually thinner.

2. Is Payasam good for health?

Payasam is nutritious and is considered healthy as part of a balanced diet. It can be easily digested and it is naturally gluten free as it does not contain wheat. Payasam is a good source of calcium in our diet. Payasam has its share of health benefits too - it has shown to lower cholesterol, it is high in carbohydrates which is useful for energy and overall studies have shown that it may prevent the risk of developing colon cancer.

3. Is Payasam good for weight loss?

Foods like rice are high in glycemic index and are not considered to be suitable for people that are trying to lose weight or those that suffer from diabetes as it can affect the blood sugar control levels.

4. Can you freeze Payasam?

Don’t freeze it just put put it in the fridge. Freezing it will affect the texture as vermicelli is a very thin noodle.  After storing in the fridge you can add cold milk to it to reheat.

5. How do you reheat payasam?

Typically payasam is served hot but some people like to eat it cold. When reheating payasam you should heat it in a bowl over a saucepan of water (kind of like a double boiler) - This is simply to avoid burning it. If you cook it straight in a saucepan it will likely burn around the sides and make cleaning more difficult. Add a little milk to get the dish to the right consistency.

6. Where is Payasam from?

Payasam is basically from Asia but the recipe was given to them by Persians. To be clear, this sweet dish originated in Iran.

7. Why does Payasam develop burnt taste sometimes?

Payasam sometime develops a burnt taste whilst cooking and its known as a Maillard reaction. It happens when milk sugars have turn into to carbon. Adding any more cardamom, mac, edible camphor, will only mask the upper notes of the flavour, the base notes of burnt milk remain the same. Next time when cooking be more careful.

If you need to try and get the burnt taste out of Payasam, bay leaves can help with the smell but ultimately it would be best to transfer to another saucepan and to change the cooking utensils. If the problem continues you can add a little ghee, heat it slightly and add 2 cinnamon sticks then add the Payasam back. In some cases this can fix the burnt flavour.


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