Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Moong Dal Payasam (Pesara Pappu Payasam)

A Cup of Moong dal Payasam
A Cup of Moong dal Payasam for Indian Sweets~101

If I have to choose between a cup of payasam and a slice of cake, I’d always go for the cup. Here, mothers prepare cakes lovingly; back in India, payasams are the norm. Every Saturday my mother would prepare payasam for puja naivedyam. I believe she prepared payasam mainly because of us, four little darlings:), who would come home from school hungry for something sweet. We had half-day school on Saturdays and afternoon meals at my mother’s home always included a type of payasam. Creamy rich with full of cashews and golden raisins, it was like spoonful of heaven on a warm afternoon.

Together between my mom and mother-in-law, there are recipes for at least a dozen different payasams. Who would really need a cook book when you have this type of rich resource right a phone call away? Because they all follow a basic method, it’s not that difficult to remember the procedure. Moong dal payasam is one such easy recipe I picked up from the family.

Moong dal is cooked in sweetened and thickened, rich poppy seed milk. Light golden hue, incredible, inviting aroma and delight to the senses – this is how I would describe this payasam.

Roasted in Ghee – Yellow Moong Dal


Moong dal, yellow (pesara pappu) – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup
Milk – 5 cups
Poppy seeds (Khus-khus, gasa gasalu) – ¼ cup
(Soaked in ½ cup of warm water for at least half an hour, to soften them)
Cashews and Golden Raisins, each – ¼ cup
Cardamom (Elachi, aluka) – 6
Ghee (neyyi) – 2 tablespoons

Prep Work:

1 In an iron skillet or tava, heat a teaspoon of ghee on medium heat. Add and roast, yellow moong dal until the color changes from yellow to light red and releases the wonderful fragrance. Remove them to a plate. Aromatherapy starts with this first step.

2 In the same iron skillet or tava, heat a tablespoon of ghee on medium heat. When it is hot, add and toast first golden raisins and then cashews. Golden Raisins puff up like little gold balloons and cashews turn from creamy white to light gold. Take care not to burn. Remove them to a plate.

3 Powder cardamom seeds to smooth powder in a mortar using the pestle or in a spice grinder.

Toasted in Ghee - Cashews and Golden Raisins
Toasted in Ghee – Cashews and Golden Raisins

In a pressure cooker, take roasted moong dal, sugar, milk and soaked poppy seeds along with the water it’s soaked in. Mix and close the lid. Pressure cook until two whistles. Once all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid and with a wood-masher or immersion blender lightly mash the dal. Pressure-cooking is my method; I follow it mainly for the convenience of not stirring and for the speed. In actual recipe, they would take all the ingredients in a wide, thick-bottomed vessel and cook until the dal reaches fall-apart stage. If you don’t have a pressure cooker at home, then follow the second method. It may take little bit more time, but the end result will be worth the trouble, I promise.

Add the toasted cashews and golden raisins along with the ghee they toasted in. Also stir in the cardamom powder to the cooked payasam. Have a taste and add sugar and milk, if needed. Simmer the payasam on medium-low heat about 20 to 30 minutes, until it reaches thick, creamy consistency. Serve warm or cold.

A Cup of Moong Dal Payasam with Poppy Seeds, Cashews and Golden Raisins

Poppy seeds can block the cooker nozzle and that may create a mess, if they not soaked in warm water beforehand. Soak poppy seeds in water first, if you are to cook this in a pressure cooker.
Chana Dal Payasam – Link

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Indian Sweets 101,Milk,Moong Dal (Washed),Naivedyam(Festival Sweets),Poppy Seeds,Sugar (Friday June 9, 2006 at 8:31 pm- permalink)
Comments (45)

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45 comments for Moong Dal Payasam (Pesara Pappu Payasam) »

  1. That looks so good and inviting. I wanna try this. Thanks for the recipe.

    Indira replies:
    Give it a try Gini, I am sure you are going to like it. Thanks.

    Comment by Gini — June 9, 2006 @ 9:00 pm

  2. I make this often, but never tried with poppy seeds. Will try next time!
    As always, great pictures 🙂

    Indira replies:
    We usually add poppy seeds to this particular type of paysam.
    Thanks Hema.:)

    Comment by hema — June 9, 2006 @ 9:08 pm

  3. I make this too, but never heard of with poppy seeds. I use coconut milk, and jaggery. I have also seen people adding tapioca pearls to it. Totally different method, huh? Pictures are soooooooo good Indira. Congrats on your picture of spice box appeared on online newspaper. Your pictures are professional, and who wouldn’t want it?

    Indira replies:
    With coconut milk, yum… that must taste super good!
    Back home, jaggery is the sweetener of choice. But here, I usually cook them all in a pressure cooker, jaggery won’t allow the dal to cook properly. So I usually add sugar to this payasam.
    Thank you RP.

    Comment by RP — June 9, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

  4. Indira:

    Great pics as usual. For some reason, my mom never cooked payasams with dals. Should definitely try this and your chana dal payasam next time for naivedyam.

    Indira replies:
    Thanks LC.
    Really? I am surprised. They do take little bit of time, compared to semya payasam etc., but taste quite good. Give it a try.

    Comment by Luv2cook — June 10, 2006 @ 12:52 am

  5. Wow I wish I could eat it straight from the picture! It looks rich and creamy! Isn’t our payasams made out of dals healthy too with a lot of protein!

    Indira replies:
    Take it away for a taste, Sumitha. 🙂
    I agree, payasams not only offer sugar calories, also protein value because of dals.

    Comment by Sumitha — June 10, 2006 @ 3:46 am

  6. After we all have a hearty meal of chapati and guggillu, there is just enough room on this side of the stomach (can you see?) for a little dessert.

    Burp! after this pesalu, gasa-gasala payasam, I swear no man would ever leave his home for work. [This is the sweet end of the world as I know]

    Indira replies:
    . 🙂
    Tough not to day dream, I know. 🙂

    Comment by Vidyanath Tirumala Penugonda — June 10, 2006 @ 6:26 am

  7. My mom makes it EVERY saturday for naivedyam too. 🙂
    Man I do miss her cooking.
    Your recipes act a pseudo food for me. 🙂
    Most of what you make is very very close to what and how ma makes.

    Indira replies:
    I think Saturday puja and naivedyam offering is a tradition unique to our part of India.
    Wow, what a compliment, comparing to your mom. That is quite an honor! Thanks Santhi!

    Comment by santhi — June 10, 2006 @ 11:36 am

  8. Hello Indira,

    I visit ur blog daily. Its such a wonderful blog with lots of info and clorful pics. I like to tell you something regarding the ‘Nan’. U can get authentic nan by following malikca badrinath’s recipe. In that she says to cook the nan one side by covering the pan(how we do for dosa) then flip the nan and put it directly in the fire(like pulka). The nan baloons and take of it from fire and apply oil/butter on one side. I am following this method and its easy to make and i get soft and resturant style every time. try this method next time. also i like to know ur email add. to send mail.

    Indira replies:
    Thanks for making my blog your daily routine, Kavitha. and for your nice words.
    Also thanks for the tip about Nan. I’ll remember and apply them in my next attempt. But I am curious to know about Malikca Badrinath. I haven’t heard about her, who is she?
    My email –

    Comment by kavithasenthil — June 10, 2006 @ 11:57 am

  9. Hi indira,
    Love the recipe and pictures.
    My mom used to do for us on sundays evening sometimes. Hope to try one day .
    Thank you.

    Indira replies:
    Sunday meal with payasam, perfect!
    Thanks Vineela.

    Comment by vineela krishna — June 10, 2006 @ 12:05 pm

  10. Hi
    Nice pics !! This is very similar to the payasam that we make in Kerala, except that we use jaggery and coconut milk (ofcourse !!!). Poppy seeds in payasam is new to me, will it impart any special kind of flavor? I am very curious to try this out.

    Indira replies:
    Thanks Archana.
    RP mentioned the same thing. Cooking dal in coconut milk, that’s what I call real heaven. 🙂
    Poppy seeds are often used as substitue to coconut in our area. They give the creamy milky taste without the calories. In this payasam, they taste soft like very fine edible sand granules. Quite good, I totally recommend this recipe to try.:)

    Comment by Archana — June 10, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

  11. Hi Indira,

    As always, lovely pictures! And this one makes my mouth water, yummm! I am a novice on sweets and any help on that end is welcome. I will try this recipe soon.


    Indira replies:
    Thanks Latha and you are welcome to try.:)

    Comment by Latha — June 10, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  12. Indira, it looks delicious. That roasted dal looks *so* inviting. How lovely!

    Indira replies:
    Yellow moong dal is quite pretty, isn’t it? Thanks Linda.

    Comment by Linda — June 10, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

  13. Hi Indira…
    as delicious and fantastic as always…
    the curious me wants to ask…was there a special occasion ?
    keep ’em coming!

    Comment by Swarna — June 11, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

  14. Yummy Payasam. I never heard of kuskus in payasam and i would love to try it. Picture looks awesome esp fried cashew-raisin picture. I am not good in preparing sweets Indira, only try tried/tested recipes from friends and they come out good. Learning a lot from you..
    BTW: Mallika Badrinath is considered a great culinery expert from Tamilnadu and all her books are hit amongst kitchen-lovers. She writes both in Tamil and English, all recipes turn out great as our food blogs. Her books make a good buy always!

    Indira replies:
    Khus khus offers a unique taste to the payasam, give it a try.
    Thanks, I liked that picture too.:)
    I used to prepare sweets regularly almost atleast once a week, back in the days. Not anymore, unless they are for guests or for festivals, I usually don’t prepare sweets. Now because of this Indian sweets series. You can see how slow it’s going.:)
    I thought she is a blogger or something. I didn’t know she is a famous cookbook author. I’ll look for her books. Thanks for the information, Karthi!

    Comment by Karthi Kannan — June 11, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  15. Hi Indira
    i made this payasam exactly used the proportions u mentioned but the cooker created a big mess all the milk came out through vissil and after that i used an open pan and made the payasam and it turned really yumm. Just wondering why like that happened with cooker?????? And also i soaked poppyseeds half an hour in warm water…..

    Indira replies:
    Yes, sometimes that happens to me also. I don’t know why. Poppy seeds block the vissil sometimes and that would inturn create a mess, I guess. I hope nothing damazing occured.
    Alternate thing to do is, first cook the dal in pressure cooker with milk and sugar. After mashing the dal, add and cook poppy seeds. That would prevent the mess. I’ll include this info in my post just in case.:)
    I am glad to hear that you liked the taste, Rekha.

    Comment by Rekha — June 12, 2006 @ 11:40 pm

  16. Thanks for the lovely recipe, Indira! I made it for dinner last night (we had friends (French) over!) and it was a hit even with the children. and it was so easy to make. The poppy seed made it rich and creamy (so different from the regular payasam we make back home) and i added a tablespoon of grated coconut.

    I’ve recommended the recipe to amma and she’s eager to try it soon:) do keep up the great work…

    Comment by Latha — July 29, 2006 @ 4:15 am

  17. Thanks for this recipe! I happened to have all the ingredients at hand so I gave it a try. I have never used the pressure cooker so I made it in a skillet and stirred a lot. Hopefully my husband will like it!

    Comment by Sol — January 17, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  18. Dear Indira

    This payasam is a hot favorite in our house. I looked up for the recipe at your web site and made it. It is heavenly. Yesterday, I made a slight variation and I (we) think that it added to the taste – I roasted the poppy seeds lightly (dry) and powdered it finely (mixer), then soaked it in warm milk. The payasam had an added zest and the ‘cooker alert’ was minimized ! Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful site with us



    Comment by veena bhat — March 5, 2007 @ 12:07 am

  19. […] Check out Indira’s version here. […]

    Pingback by Vindu » Pesara pappu payasam - Mung Dal Kheer — April 11, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  20. Hi Indira
    I used the exact proportions mentioned in your recipe.
    I also soaked the poppy seeds, in hot water by heating it in the microwave for 20-25 minutes!
    However I didnt find much of a difference from before?
    I am obviously new to using poppy seeds and hence went on to add the poppy seeds with the water to the cooker and after some time, lo n behold, milk was all over the place.
    splattering my kitchen walls and the stove surface…
    I lost most of the poppy and 1 cup of milk in the process.
    Is there any way you can put some picture of how cooker-ready, soaked poppy should look like?
    It would be really helpful in avoiding this disaster the next time around!
    As for the remaining,it does taste delicious. I must say.
    Is there a poppy substitute that I can use?

    Indira replies:
    Hi Lalitha,
    Sorry to hear about your trouble in preparing this recipe. Yes, this happens sometime, that’s why I posted a warning note in my recipe. To prevent the messiness, sometimes I follow these methods. See if they can help you.
    1. Cook the whole thing in a big, sturdy pot. No pressure cooker and no messiness.
    2. Grind the poppy seeds to smooth paste first and then add them to yellow moong dal. (Like the other commenter mentioned above). In this way, you can use pressure cooker for speedy cooking and avoid the spillage etc.
    3. Our tradition is use poppy seeds. This is a low calorie version. But I read in other Kerala food blogs, – they prepare similar payasam with coconut milk instead of poppy seeds. You can try that version also.
    Hope this helps. If you do try this recipe again with these tips, let me know how they worked out for you. Thanks Lalitha.

    Comment by Lalitha — April 14, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

  21. Hi Indira,
    Tried your payasam for party. It came out really great. Chala simple ga anipinchindi, party ki prepare chesa so it was so busy on that day. But,when I kept everything in cooker, payasam chesinattu anipinchaledu. Thanks.


    Indira replies:
    Glad to hear that you liked this recipe. It’s a quick one to prepare, isn’t it?:)
    Have a happy moving, Rajani! Take care and come back to blogging soon. Going to miss you for sure.

    Comment by Rajani — June 13, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  22. hi indira,

    reading your blog and vijay’s with a bowl of moong dal payasam made your way (without the poppyseeds). the recipe is great. thank you. i like the photographs and kittaya is ohsocute.

    the blog and pictures make me want to explore cooking a little more…and i miss having a pet cat.

    thank you,

    Comment by pratibha — July 31, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  23. awsome. made it last night. few friends tasted it. they loved it. i have kept in the fridge and will serve chilled tonite. next time i want to try channa dal paysam.

    Comment by Mukta — August 3, 2007 @ 10:04 am

  24. hi indira,

    yesterday was onam and i made this payasam. used the ingredients but at different stages. pressure cooked moong dal in milk. simmerred this with jaggery, poppy seeds, cardamom, cashewnuts and raisins. and i did not have to deal with the mess that happens everytime (i love payasam and make it often) i make it with poppy seeds in the pressure cooker.

    i hope this helps,

    Comment by pratibha — August 28, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  25. […] As a child, Navaratri (or Dussehra) was always one of my favourite festivals. I loved it for the Golu that came up every year – the festival of dolls, lovingly arranged on makeshift steps, and rolled up carefully in old soft cloth and put away, until the next year’s Golu. I loved it for the school holidays which were arranged to coincide with the celebrations. I loved it for the payasams my mother made, one for each of the nine days of prayer that Navaratri is. I loved the careful allocation of worship – Navaratri has nine days of festivity, my mother used to tell me, because we give three days to Lakshmi, three days to Saraswati and three to Durga. But most of all, I loved Navaratri because, it is a women’s festival. […]

    Pingback by Worshipping the Goddess « Cubically Challenged — October 23, 2007 @ 5:09 am

  26. Hi Indira,
    Your dishes are yummy…all colourful and bright.Seeing ur pictures feel like cooking everything you have here.i love payasam and that too with pasera pappu..its tastey as well as good for health…Thanks alottttt for this wonderful site for people like me who have just started cooking and trying out things new!!!!!!

    Comment by Pavani — December 12, 2007 @ 10:25 am

  27. Hi Indira,
    I have made this payasam with whole sprouted Pesalu and jaggery. Of course I don’t roast the Pesalu and yes I use jaggery. As mentioned elsewhere, pressure cook the Pesalu and add to boiling milk, finish with jaggery syrup, cashew / raisins and cardamom. Never used the gasa gasalu though. Tastes better the next day-cold.
    Try that for a fibre- rich varaint.

    Comment by Padma — January 14, 2008 @ 7:21 am

  28. I usually make with moong, coconut milk and jaggery. I tried your recipe just replacing sugar with jaggery, the payasam was awesome!

    Thank you.

    Comment by VVL — February 7, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

  29. Chaala aakaligaa vundhi..and i think, im going to try this right after this comment… Sweet +healthy kadhu… that way i enjoy without guilt..

    Comment by P — February 15, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

  30. im sipping the paayaasam.. Yumm…thank u

    Comment by P — February 15, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  31. Hi Indira
    Just made this & it has turned out absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing this. I know my family is going to enjoy this a lot.

    Comment by Shaheen — May 18, 2008 @ 6:05 am

  32. hello ,
    i just tried this recipe. i cooked poppy seeds separetly, didn’t use it along wth dhal in pressure cooker.
    i used some cocunut milk, it really came out well. yummy.

    thank u for your recipe.

    Comment by hello — April 25, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  33. Hi Indira…

    I tried this recipe and everyone at home loved it..they said its the most different kind of payasam they ever had…it tasted sooo good…thx to u…im going to do it again tomorrow…


    Comment by Anu — July 29, 2009 @ 10:37 am

  34. […] Re: Shasti poojai for TTC friends. Hi Dear, Mahanandi » Moong Dal Payasam (Pesara Pappu Payasam) You can follow this method. You can avoid poppy seeds, if you don;t have, in similar some prefer coconut milk instead normal milk… can suit best of your choices. Instead of sugar you can use Jaggery also..(which is good for health instead of sugar) My Method: I dry roast Dhal, pressure cook it with veryvery pinch of salt which will enhance the sweet taste. I cook till it get mash, then add finely powdered Jaggery,Elachi powder, stir well till good consistency, then add milk/coconut mik &Ghee roasted Cashe and Raisins lastly, remove it in shortly orelse it get curdles… Quote: […]

    Pingback by Shasti poojai for TTC friends. - Page 14 - IndusLadies — July 29, 2009 @ 10:59 am

  35. quick question Indira…can I add the sugar after pressure cooking the dhal,poppy seed and milk? will the taste remain the same ?

    Yes, you can Anu. Pressure-cook and mash dhal first, and then add poppy seeds, milk and sugar. Simmer on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring in-between. Makes a tasty payasam.

    Comment by Anu — July 29, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

  36. Should the moong dal be half cooked? How do you get the effect of “splited moong” in the milk?

    This was my first try. My kheer turned out really coarse cook and horrible. My husband just did not like it. But I want to try once more and make sure I prepare the one that I ate once in one of our south indian friends place.

    Comment by Sunita — August 6, 2009 @ 12:18 am

  37. Hmmm. Generally I like your recipes Indira garu. The one thing that distinguishes your food blog from others is the originality of the recipe and also simplicity of the procedure. But somehow, sorry to say that this recipe turned out horrible and messy. I don’t why it turned out so? First time, I pressure cooked it, I used a vessel inside the pressure cooker, I mean I did not put pappu and milk directly into the cooker. And it was absolutely uncooked! Then again I trasferred everything directly into the cooker with milk, poppy seeds everything. This time the dal was cooked but the whole thing was so messy! The poppy seeds flew all around the cooker vessel, milk came out when whistles started coming and it did not smell as wonderful as it used when my mother prepared this(of course, in her style). Also the milk quantity stated was mor I guess, I did not like the consistency that I got(too thin or watery). So I cooked it again on the stovetop, till I got the consistency I am used to. I was particularly put off by the inefficient cooking, as I had to re-do the same thing 3 times! 🙁
    All in all not quite satisfactory. I don’t mean to demean you, you are still my favorite food blogger. Its only this particular recipe that is the culprit 🙁

    Comment by Harini — September 28, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

  38. I also think the amount of poppy seeds used was too much. Because we prepare a payasam called Gasala payasam in our house(quite a favorite in my family). Even that payasam does not have 1/4 cup of poppy seeds. My mother used only 1 tblsp of poppy seeds soaked and ground to a thick fine paste along with 1 tblsp rice soaked and half fresh coconut.

    Comment by Harini — September 28, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  39. Hi this is manadhii…….I tried this recipe and everyone at home loved it..they said its the most different kind of payasam they ever had…it tasted sooo good…thx to u…im going to do it again tomorrow…

    Comment by manadhii — January 22, 2010 @ 7:06 am

  40. great pics

    Comment by lavanya — January 27, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

  41. my husband is a photographer, he loves your site for the aesthetically shot pictures (he recomends this site to any non-indian at work who wants to try and is new to Indian cooking) and I love your site for the recipies (of course the pics make it enticing to visit). Do you shoot your own pics? I must compliment you on both your photo and cooking skills.

    Comment by aparna — January 27, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  42. Hi this is muggulu.

    awsome. I made it last night. few friends tasted it. they loved it. i have kept in the fridge and will serve chilled tonight. next time i want to try channa dal payasam.

    Comment by muggulu143 — May 27, 2010 @ 7:01 am

  43. Will this paysam thicken on cooling?

    Comment by abc — June 19, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

  44. Hi ,

    I tried this, but all the poppy seeds get stuck in the pressure valve and , and whistles dont come. What do i do, Can you please suggest.

    Also, can we make a paste of poppy seeds,in blender it is not happening.

    Comment by Devi — October 6, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  45. Hi,

    My mom makes this pretty much the same way like your recipe..except that now I customized it by adding frozen coconut powder and poppy seeds directly to the ghee after initially frying the cashews and raisins. I fry the daal red and pressure cook it in milk and jaggery. Finally once the daal is cooked I add the slightly crispy mixure of cashews,raisins,poppy seeds and coconut to the daal. Then i adjust the sweetness with sugar and finally add a pinch of cardamom.

    Sweet dishes are excellent if we add both jaggery and sugar..

    Guys try this method with fried poppy seeds and coconut powder …itz awesome. I usually use the frozen coconut powder directly.(you can thaw it a little bit by just leaving it out for a few mts before adding it to ghee)..In india we can use the fresh grated coconut. add poppy seeds at the end.

    Comment by GR — December 26, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

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