Festival Special / Sweet & Payasams

Thengai Arisi Payasam/Coconut & Rice Pudding


In our tradition, kids’ ears are pierced around the Ayusha Homam: the first star birthday (incidentally, we follow the lunar calendar for all religious purposes, hence the ‘star’ birthday normally occurs on a day different from the regular one). We celebrated the ayusha homam of my li’l one last week and his ears were pierced the day before that.

I’m sure lots of you are going to go pierced “his” ears? Yes, we pierce even boys’ ears! In the olden tradition, men continued to wear their earrings right into adulthood. Strictly religious people and those who conduct religious ceremonies or take part in them still wear them these days. My father-in-law does too.

These days, of course, parents prefer to follow the ritual but remove the earring when the fancy subsides. I remember my brother wore his earrings till he started school. The funny part is, you can still see a tiny hole (even if it doesn’t go through the other side) in the ears of a lot many men who’ve had their ears pierced in childhood. As a kid, I remember making fun of my father about this.


Tradition rules that the piercing should be done with the kid sitting in the lap of the kid’s uncle or grandfather. Don’t ask me why though! Since my brother, who’s away at engineering college, couldn’t manage to come, a cousin of mine, who was in town, filled in. My fellow starting howling the minute he was made to sit on my cousin’s lap. I guess he was more petrified of all the people milling around him than scared by the thought of getting his ears pierced, which I doubt he understood at all.

But the guy who’d come to actually pierce the fellow’s ears was quite experienced in this area and he finished the job within a matter of seconds. My boy was okay in a couple of minutes, especially when he was handed the television remote control. Yes! That is his favourite toy.

While we’d ordered food from outside that day, my mother-in-law prepared two things. One which is known as Kaapu Arisi, something that is made only on this occassion apart from the naming day ceremony – punyavachanam – the 10th day after the birth of the child. I’ll post about that next week when I will be doing traditional dishes the whole week. Since this week is all about occassion special food for the 30-day Blogging Marathon I’m taking part in, I’ll tell you about the Thengai-arisi payasam (Coconut and Rice Pudding) she made that day.


Thengai Arisi Payasam
(serves 15)

Coconut – 1 (small)
Rice – 1/4 cup
Jaggery – 200 gm or so (this is an eyeball measurement and will depend on how sweet you want it)
Cardamom – 2 pods or 1 large pinch of cardamom powder
Almonds – a handful (you could use cashews instead)
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Milk – about 2 cups (see Notes)
Water – as required (2-4 cups)

Break open the coconut and grate the flesh. You could also break the flesh into smaller pieces and grind it

Wash the rice in three changes of water and drain in a colander for 20 minutes. Grind it coarsely

Soak the almonds in some water for 30 minutes and grind into a fine paste

Heat the ghee in a heavy bottom big pan and add cardamom pods (in case you’re using powder, don’t add it now)

Add ground rice and sauté in ghee for a couple of minutes till it starts to change colour. Don’t let it brown though.

Add ground coconut and milk/water and cook on medium heat till rice is cooked. Keep stirring every now and then. Add more water as required

Break jaggery into tiny bits or grate it. If the jaggery you get has impurities, dissolve it in some water and set aside for 10 minutes. The impurities will settle at the bottom. Pour the jaggery water into another container. Be very careful towards the end. Discard the water when the impurities start coming in. Alternatively, you could strain the jaggery water and discard the impurities

Add the jaggery to the cooked rice-coconut mixture and mix well till well blended. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. Add the cardamom powder now if you’re using it

Thengai-arisi payasam is ready to serve!

You can skip milk totally and use water altogether. While milk does five a nice flavour, using water alone make it no less tasty thanks to all the coconut in there. We made in minus milk since one of my sisters-in-law is on a no-milk diet


19 thoughts on “Thengai Arisi Payasam/Coconut & Rice Pudding

  1. We have loads and loads of traditions na, sorry to know that ur brother couldnt make the trip for the celebration… Payasam makes me drool..love to have a bowl.

  2. We get boys ears pierced too during their upanayanam however my 11 year old daughter hasn’t got her ears pierced. lol
    I love kheers and definitely will give this a try.

  3. Ya, PJ had told me about this tradition, I was quite surprised …here they pierce ears for girls only…and when they are just babies, around the 3 rd month, but still flexible…like the dish , well styled.

  4. We wanted to observe for our twins, then decided it was too much of a hassle to manage both, so left it even though we got them those strings..I still have them..:)..maybe for their kids LOL..nice payasaam..never mixed these two together in this way..

  5. I like Archana’s comment. So choo baby looking realy smart now :)? I didn’t want Shreyas’s ears pierced, so we didn’t do this ceremony. But, I might have to get mine pierced again as its almost closed now!!

    The payasam looks nice!

  6. I have both my boys ears pierced too! And like you said, we could still see a tiny hole in the ears 🙂 I love this payasam and since my mother is here now, I am going to ask her to make it for us soon.

  7. we pierce ears on 12th day, i remember the pain i felt on hearing about it, boy was fine, but i kept looking and caressing him throughout the day, its weird we also celebrated with kheer and didnt share with him, this pudding looks nice and healthy

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  10. We had that ceremony for lil dude too. But it was hard to watch him cry . We applied an ointment to numb that area but I think he cried out of fear and being held tight!
    Btw, lovely kheer…

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