Thengai Payasam Recipe: A Delightful South Indian Dessert

Thengai Payasam, a coconut-based delicacy, holds a special place in South Indian cuisine, especially during festive occasions like Puthandu, the Tamil New Year. This delectable dessert, made with rice, milk, water, jaggery, coconut, and roasted cashews, can be prepared in just 30 minutes. Its rich, creamy texture and flavorful ingredients make it an irresistible treat for any celebration. Let’s explore the detailed process of making Thengai Payasam, with tips to enhance its taste and presentation.


Ingredients for Thengai Payasam

Essential Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 2 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups jaggery
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons roasted cashews

Step-by-Step Preparation

  • Step 1: Grind and Soak the Rice:

Begin by soaking the rice in water for an hour. This step is crucial as it softens the rice, making it easier to grind. After soaking, strain the rice and combine it with grated coconut. Add 1/4 cup of water to this mixture and grind it into a coarse paste. This paste forms the base of your Thengai Payasam, giving it a rich and creamy texture.

  • Step 2: Cook the Rice Paste:

In a medium-sized pan, heat 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of milk. Bring this mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add the rice and coconut paste, stirring occasionally. Cook this mixture on a medium flame for about 15 minutes, allowing the rice to cook thoroughly and the flavors to meld together. Continuously stirring makes sure uniform cooking and protects the mixture from sticking to the pan.

  • Step 3: Melt the Jaggery:

In a separate pan, heat 1/4 cup of water and add the jaggery. Stir continuously until the jaggery melts completely, forming a smooth syrup. This step is essential as it ensures that the jaggery blends well with the rice mixture, imparting its rich sweetness to the dish.

  • Step 4: Combine Jaggery and Rice Mixture:

Once the jaggery has melted, add this syrup to the cooked rice mixture. Stir well to combine all the ingredients, ensuring that the jaggery syrup is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. This step enhances the sweetness and flavor of the payasam.

  • Step 5: Garnish and Serve:

Finally, add the roasted cashews to the mixture, giving the Thengai Payasam a delightful crunch. You can serve the payasam warm or chilled, depending on your preference. Garnish with additional roasted nuts or a sprinkle of cardamom powder for an extra layer of flavor.

Tips for Enhancing Thengai Payasam

  • Richer Texture:

To give the Thengai Payasam a richer texture, you can replace some or all of the water with milk. This substitution makes the dessert creamier and more indulgent.

  • Flavor Variations:

Adding cardamom powder and soaked saffron can elevate the flavor of your payasam. Cardamom adds a fragrant aroma, while saffron imparts a beautiful golden hue and a subtle, unique taste.

  • Nutty Additions:

Experiment with different nuts such as almonds, pistachios, or walnuts to add variety and extra crunch to your payasam. Roasting the nuts before adding them enhances their flavor and texture.

Nutritional Information

  • Caloric Content:

A serving of Thengai Payasam typically contains around 350-400 calories, depending on the amount of jaggery and milk used. It provides a balanced mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, making it a satisfying dessert.

  • Health Benefits:

While Thengai Payasam is a sweet treat, it also offers some nutritional benefits:

Coconut: Rich in healthy fats and provides a good source of fiber.

Jaggery: Contains iron and other minerals, making it a healthier alternative to refined sugar.

Nuts: Packed with healthy fats, protein, and essential nutrients.

Serving Suggestions

Thengai Payasam is a versatile dessert that can be served in various ways to suit different occasions. Here are some serving suggestions:

  • Festive Presentation:

Serve Thengai Payasam in decorative bowls, garnished with roasted nuts and a few strands of saffron. This presentation is perfect for festive occasions and adds a touch of elegance to the dessert.

  • Chilled Delight:

For a refreshing twist, chill the payasam in the refrigerator before serving. The cool, creamy texture is perfect for warm weather or as a light dessert after a heavy meal.

  • Accompaniments:

Pair Thengai Payasam with fresh fruits like mango slices or berries for a contrasting burst of freshness and flavor. You can also serve it with a drizzle of honey or rose syrup for added sweetness.


Thengai Payasam is a delightful South Indian dessert that combines the simplicity of basic ingredients with the richness of traditional flavors. Whether served warm or chilled, it delights the senses and brings a touch of elegance to any occasion. By following these steps and tips, you can create a perfect bowl of payasam that will be cherished by all who taste it. Indulge in the creamy, aromatic bliss of this classic dessert and enjoy the culinary journey it offers.


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