Bamboo rice Payasam, exotic dessert kheer

bamboo rice porridge
Mums are very resourceful! My mum’s kitchen hides some of the best pickles and a collection of ingredients that you will hardly get in the wide global market. The last time I visited her, she had saved a few treasures for me, knowing that we both have similar interests in exploring food, yet diverse in our taste preferences.  Among these treasures were Navara rice, banana flower, arisikaruvadam (rice papads), bamboo rice, puffed paddy and palm jaggery. Some of these treasures quickly show up on the blog, most of them eaten and a few like this bamboo rice come after much deliberation. One of the recipes amma asked me to try out was Mula ari payasam (bamboo rice kheer). 

What is bamboo rice?

If you run an internet search for bamboo rice, you will see images of green rice and some brown ones. Now the real bamboo rice is the brown ones. It is the seed that the bamboo plant gives out when it gas fully matured and reaches the end of life. This is not really a cultivated product, hence the availability is a bit limited. However, you will find this in speciality stores or health stores.

Bamboo rice

How bamboo rice is collected?

The bamboo rice (mungil arisi , mulayari)  us more of a collected or foraged product than a cultivated variety. Towards the end of life the bamboo flowers.  As the maturity of the seeds happen the whole bamboo plant dies. The shoot that carries the flowers are collected( thorny) and threshed to get the seed pods. This is polished to extract the seeds. The laborious and time-consuming process makes bamboo rice exotic and lesser explored.

What does bamboo rice taste like?

The unique bamboo seeds look like brown rice grains. Following cooking, they taste like wheat. They have a texture similar to Asian sticky rice, with strong chewy bran.

What can you make with bamboo rice?

Cooked bamboo rice formed some well know delicacies in the Indian and Asian subcontinent. Steamed in the bamboo or reeds, with some or just salt is a popular snack in Asian countries. In Kerala,  the bamboo rice is cooked with jaggery to form a sticky halwa like preparation. Bamboo rice (mungil arisi) can be used in place of rice to make dosa or paal kanji.
Add it with the vegetables to make a soft-cooked kichuri preparation or try out our version of this sweet mulayari payasam.

How to cook bamboo rice?

Bamboo rice the main grain base to this payasam recipe is bamboo rice. Wash and soak the mungil arisi (bamboo rice) overnight to soften. Drain the rice and cook with 2 times water under high pressure for softly cooked rice.

Ingredients for this bamboo rice kheer /payasam

Since it was a small quantity that we had, payasam seemed the best way to go forward. It was more special as issues were coming along and nothing mattered more than payasam. This mulayari payasam is cooked in the simplest way.
Milk- so to make the tastiest of payasams, swap half the amount of water to cook the grain with milk. This infuses the flavour both ways and the payasam is a bit thicker than watery.  Then add more milk as needed to make this into a pouring consistency.
Jaggery or sugar- traditional payasams are made with jaggery (unrefined evaporated sugarcane juice). However, the jaggery tends to split the milk if added while boiling. So add ut towards the end.
Cardamom pods -the fragrance of most payasams come from the crushed cardamom seeds, yumm.

What else can you add?

You can add in a handful of mung beans when cooking the rice to add depth to the payasam. As a garnish, mum adds roasted coconut slices to Kerala style payasams. The aroma is unique and unforgettable.
Here are the details of this recipe so you can make it when you get a handful of bamboo rice.

Bamboo rice Payasam.

Bamboo rice, mungil arisi or mula ari is the seed of the bamboo plant. This bamboo rice kheer is the tastiest dish made with this handful of bamboo rice.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
soaking time. 6 hours
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Desserts, Sweets and savories, Traditional
Cuisine Baby toddler food, gluten free, Indian, Kerala, Kids choice, Medicinal, South indian, Summer, Vegetarian, Winter
Servings 4 people
Calories 282 kcal


  • 1 deep pot
  • 1 ladle


soaking the bamboo rice

  • 1/2 cup bamboo rice
  • 2 cups drinking water

For cooking the payasam

  • 2 cups full cream milk
  • 1/2 cup condensed sweetened milk
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder


  • Wash and soak bamboo rice in water for 6 hours or overnight
  • Drain the water and pressure cook the bamboo rice with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water.
  • Open the lid when the pressure releases open and check the rice,it will be tender to touch. Add one more cup of milk and cook on a medium flame. Keep stirring.
  • When it becomes really soft add the cardamom powder. Mix well
  • Add half the cup of condensed milk and check the sweetness.
    Continue to stir in more to reach the desired sweetness. Now bring it only up to a simmer and remove from heat.


Calories: 282kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 9gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 96mgPotassium: 390mgFiber: 1gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 300IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 267mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Indian desserts, Kerala recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Poonam Bachhav
6 years ago

Inforamative and lovely share !

5 years ago

Hi, I too always heard and read about bamboo rice. And I have seen that in supermarkets also. This payasam looks tempting for a person having sweet tooth like me. Will try some day.

5 years ago

This is new to me and such an informative post.

5 years ago

WoW bamboo payasam I remember me & my family tasted this paysam on our last travel trip visit to Wayanad. That payasam is too sweet but we really liked it very much. Thanks for sharing,will try soon !

Priya Srinivasan
5 years ago

I have been wanting to try this bamboo rice for a long time now! Payasam with it looks tempting and delicious!

5 years ago

Love learning about such exotic ingredients! I’ve never come across this grain here but the way you have described it, it sure sounds awesome!

5 years ago

This is something new to me, looks so delish, I need to try it sometime Seema. Thanks for sharing.

5 years ago

Bamboo rice paysam looks inviting. Very informative post.

5 years ago

Never heard of these bamboo rice before but they sure does sound delicious for making kheer.

5 years ago

Bamboo rice is new to me, is it healthier than any other rice? BTW, kheer looks delightful.

5 years ago

Love these exotic ingredients ! Sounds really so yumm , will surely bookmarking to try later dear 🙂

Nisha Ramesh
Nisha Ramesh
5 years ago

Wow, look at that colour of the rice! That alone is so alluring. 🙂 never had this before but will def try this when i can. 🙂

2 years ago

Where can I purchase it?

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