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Desserts, Indian Sweets, Kerala Dishes, Payasams, Sadya

Sharkara Payasam – A Wedding, a Festival and a Birthday

ശര്കര പായസം

 Native to Kerala and deeply embedded in the Malayali psyche is the brown jaggery payasam – the Sharkara Payasam. Jaggery is unrefined cane sugar. It is rich in minerals, particularly iron. In short, Jaggery is a healthy sweetener with an earthy taste. At any family celebration – a marriage function, the naming ceremony of a new-born baby, a birthday celebration, a festival – one payasam would inevitably be this rich earthy coconut milk delicacy; varieties include moong dal, Ada or jackfruit as the main ingredient……

Payasam is customarily served on the plantain leaf at the end of a sadya;  we savour the finger-licking delicacy with relish wishing it would last and last……… Nowadays they are served in glasses besides the plantain leaf.  Yet another age – old custom sacrificed in the name of convenience and urbanisation.

SHARKARA PAYASAM (ശര്‍കര പായസം)

ശര്കര അരി പായസം


  • 2 medium rounds jaggery OR 350 gm jaggery / sharkara
  • 2 cups coconut gratings
  • 1 cup Unakkalari / Red Kuthiya Ari / Basmati Rice / Raw Rice
  • 2 pods Cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee

To Garnish

  • 1 Tbsp Ghee
  • 1 Tbsp Cashewnuts
  • 1 tsp Raisins


  • Powder cardamom seeds.
  • Take first and second extractions of milk from coconut grating by grinding it with water and straining. First – 1 cup thick coconut milk and second – 1½ cups thin coconut milk.
  • Cook jaggery in 1 cup of water, make a syrup, strain and set aside.
  • Soak rice in water for  20 minutes. Cook in 2½ cups of water in a pressure cooker or heavy-bottomed vessel. The rice should be well cooked and separate but not mushy.
  • Add jaggery syrup to the rice, followed by ghee and powdered cardamom. Simmer till it becomes quite thick, stirring constantly.
  • In low heat and with continuous stirring, add the second coconut milk and when ½ of it is absorbed, add the first milk and mix well. Put off the stove before it boils to prevent curdling.
  • For the garnish, heat ghee, fry raisins, remove it from the kadai and fry  cashewnuts till golden. Add them to the sharkara payasam. Serve hot or cold.
  • Notes – Add more ghee, for a richer version.

  • Quick Snack:Whenever we have Appam / Hoppers for breakfast, I use the left – over batter to make a snack for tea. Appam batter is made with rice, coconut milk, sugar and yeast.
  • Sweeten the batter with more sugar, and steam it in a shallow steel vessel  for about 15 minutes. If it is cooked ,a toothpick inserted in the centre will come out clean. Allow to cool before cutting.
  • Serve it plain or with pickles / butter / cheese. As a meal, it can be taken with chicken curry or vegetable curry. Needless to say, it is one of our favourites.

Quick Tip: Some shops spray insecticide on their shelves. Always wash the outside of a can before you open it.

About Paddy

When I married and came to Bangalore, it was a real ‘Pensioners’ Paradise.’ The climate was as today’s generation would say – ‘Awesome’. It was cool and pleasant throughout the year. My parents cautioned me to keep warm and have given me the loveliest Kashmir shawls, which I treasure to this day. Since I could not distinguish between rice and dal, cooking was an uphill task. I had a cook from Kerala, but the cold weather did not suit her and in a month’s time, she went back. Looking back, I have come a long way now… Cooking for me has metamorphosed from a daily routine of making edible and nutritious food for my family to an exciting journey of creativity by experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. To me, food is not only for nourishment and sustenance. Its taste and flavors take us back to our good times too. Food is nostalgia and comfort. It brings home our culture. Food is a treat and nourishment for the soul too. I dedicate this blog to my parents, who instilled in me a strong sense of ethics and discipline, and whose affection, love and support gives me strength in this journey of life. I feel the need of today’s generation, who come away from their homes and crave for home cooked food. To you too, I dedicate this blog, where I will share the recipes that I have learnt and grown to love over the years.


3 thoughts on “Sharkara Payasam – A Wedding, a Festival and a Birthday

  1. Wholesome and yum as always….Another great recipe 🙂

    Posted by expressionistaura | August 6, 2012, 10:04 PM
  2. thanks for stopping by my site! you have a great space here too, loved reading about your early days in bangalore 🙂

    Posted by Nags | August 17, 2012, 10:06 AM

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