• South Indian rice pudding (payasam) (Anjali Nambissan)Source: Anjali Nambissan

Paal payasam (milk pudding) is a popular South Indian sweet dish that is traditionally made with full-fat cow’s milk and an indigenous variety of Asian rice, similar to arborio in taste and texture. I've adapted my mother's recipe to suit a vegan lifestyle.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (24 votes)


  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1½ cups raw sugar
  • 1 litre soy milk
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 2½ tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ cup chopped dates or raisins (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 2 small pinches saffron 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


In a large saucepan, cook the rice according to the packet instructions until par-cooked (you want it to be semi al dente).

Add the soy milk and sugar, stir to combine and cook for at least 20 minutes. Stir regularly so the rice absorbs the liquid.  

Grind the cardamom (pods and all) to a coarse powder, add to the pan and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the chia seeds and dates cook for another 10 minutes or until the rice is soft and mushy.

Melt half of the coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat, add the almonds and toast until lightly coloured. Remove and drain on paper towel. Repeat with the cashews.

Stir through the nuts and saffron, cover with a lid, and cook for 5 minutes.

Serve hot or cold, depending on the weather. 


This recipe is from a home cook featured on The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.