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  • Sheena Philipose

Nei Payasam (Sharkkara Payasam)

Onam is the most important festival in Kerala, where we malayalees commemorate King Mahabali's yearly visit and it is the highlight of all celebrations in Kerala. The week-long festival brings the region to life with boat races, tiger dances, flower Rangoli, and other activities. Malayalees know that no celebration is complete without the traditional Onam sadyha(meal), which includes around 24 food items served on a banana leaf. Once you've eaten all the curries, pickles, and rice to your heart's content, the meal is finished off with the highly anticipated dessert; payasams. Payasam assumes many forms and can be made from many kinds of fruits, pulses, and even vegetables. One of my favorite versions is nei or sharkkara payasam, which is made with raw rice, jaggery, and coconut milk. While the traditional method takes a couple of hours, many of us don't have that kind of time, so I've created a faster, just as tasty cheat version of the same.


Nei Payasam (Sharkarra Payasam)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serving: 8 ppl


  • Payasam rice/raw red rice: 1 1/2 cups

  • Jaggery: 500 gm

  • Coconut milk 200 ml cans: 2 cans

  • Coconut cut into small pieces: 1 cup

  • Raisins: 1 cup

  • Cashews: 1 cup

  • Ginger powder: 1/2 Tsp

  • Cardamon pods: 5-6 pods, beaten in a mortar and pestle

  • Ghee: for frying and topping


  1. Wash the rice 3-4 times and soak it for 30 minutes.

  2. Boil the jaggery with a little water and strain it

  3. Pressure cook the rice: I like to add a little of the coconut milk to the water while cooking the rice so that it absorbs the coconut flavor. If using an instant pot, cook the rice at high pressure for 7 minutes with 2 cups of water mixed with a cup of coconut milk and let the pressure release naturally.

  4. While the rice is cooking, heat ghee in a pan and fry the cashews until golden brown take them out. Next, fry the raisins in the same ghee till puffed and take them out. Lastly, fry the coconut pieces till golden brown. Keep them all aside.

  5. Once the rice is cooked, add the jaggery syrup to the rice but make sure the rice is cooked through well (coz once the jaggery is added, the rice will not cook well). Bring it to a boil.

  6. Next, add the coconut milk and mix well again bring it to boil.

  7. Mix in the ginger powder and cardamom powder, give it a taste if you prefer it sweeter you could add more jaggery.

  8. Add the fried raisins, nuts, and coconut along with any leftover ghee from frying these to the rice mixture well. If you like your payasam thinner you can add in a little more coconut milk.

  9. Drizzle with a little ghee.

  10. Serve warm and enjoy!

Check out my YouTube video below and try for yourself

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