The essential ingredient in the most-popular Indian dessert, kheer or payasam, is milk. Sweeteners used can vary, the flavouring spices and essences can vary, colour varies but milk, be it any variety, forms the basis of payasam.
What is Payasam?
Payasam or Kheer is one of the main desserts served in Indian houses during any festive event. From temple offerings to Weddings to simple celebrations, this has a special place. It is a rich milk-based dish similar to that of a rice pudding. Originally it is made with rice, milk sugar and flavoured with nuts and other essences. Vermicelli, sago, broken wheat are also used and so many variations have emerged. You can check the other varieties here. Even though it is a simple dish to make, there are certain things that need to be considered during preparation. One of the main concern while making payasam is curdling of milk. So I have compiled a list to help you in troubleshooting.
- Always boil the milk and then add the milk (warm or at room temperature) to the mixture while making payasam. This is a foolproof way to prevent curdling of milk. If the milk is too hot or cold, either ways, the chances of milk curdling are higher.
- Add milk gradually. This prevents from forming lumps. Also, keep scraping the sides of the pan while cooking. If left as such, the deposits will get dried and it may get wasted.
- For any recipe that calls for adding sugar, don't keep it on the heat for a long time after adding the sugar. Especially in a kheer or payasam, the milk and sugar will separate and it will not be mixed properly. You won't see any physical difference but there will be a slight taste difference. That is it will slightly be runny.
- While adding Jaggery as a sweetener, make the jaggery syrup and add milk after switching off the flame. After adding milk, keep it on the flame again maybe for a minute (not more than that), so that it gets mixed well.
- Try to use whole fat milk or at least the 1.5%. Do not use skimmed milk.
- The amount of milk depends on one's preferred consistency. Payasam can be drunk from a glass or spooned.
- Even though milk is the main ingredient, other milk products can also be used. Mainly condensed milk and evaporated milk are used in addition to the milk. These two provide a full-bodied base to the payasam. The dairy products can be used in more than one combination.
Generally, the milk is simmered for a long time and reduced to almost half the quantity while making payasam. This enhances the dish multifold and is one of the key factors in achieving a decadent end product. But this requires a long cooking time and in order to reduce it, evaporated milk (which is basically dehydrated milk, 60% of water content removed) is used. I use it in a 50:50 (milk: evaporated milk) or mostly in a 75:25 ratio. Use evaporated milk only to enrich the taste. If you use only evaporated milk, it might be overpowering.
Alternatively, if you are following the traditional method, reduce the regular milk to half its quantity by simmering it for a longer time (stirring frequently) and skip the evaporated milk. In this case, increase the milk quantity by 1 more Cup.
The next addition is condensed milk. Condensed milk is similar to evaporated milk (with water content removed) with the addition of sugar. It is sweetened. It provides the same rich creamy texture to the payasam. When using this, don't forget to reduce the amount of sugar or other sweeteners in the recipe. Do not add too much of condensed milk. It will mask the flavour and change the taste of the kheer. Just a little bit is enough.
Do not forget to check the page on how to easily break jaggery. Jaggery is one of the main sweetener used in many types of kheer | Payasam.
- add boiled milk for making payasam or kheer.
- cook in a medium flame after adding milk and sugar. Do not increase the flame for speeding up the process.
- add sugar at the end and do not keep the kheer on the flame for a long time after adding it.
- switch off the flame while mixing jaggery and milk. The acidity in the jaggery will curdle the milk if they boil together.
- If adding raisins to the kheer, add it at the end after switching it off the flame. The acidic nature of raisins may curdle the hot milk.
- Using whole fat milk also helps in preventing curdling. Higher the fat content, lower the possibility of curdling.
I have added tips that I usually follow. Let me know in the comments if this works for you and if there is anything else that you do differently!