This sweet and creamy Instant Pot rice pudding is a popular Indian dessert called rice kheer/payasam and my vegan version gets its vibrant color from beets! Along with the most gorgeous color, beets add a subtle earthiness and sweetness that goes so well with this creamy rice pudding while still keeping it gluten free!
The beautiful color and exotic flavors in this rice kheer will make it a wonderful addition to your Diwali/Dussehra spread this year! Watch the step by step instructions on how to make this gorgeous rice kheer here.
My inspiration behind this beautiful beet and rice kheer
Rice kheer (also known as rice payasam) is such a popular dessert in India and is traditionally made by slowly cooking rice in simmering milk until it turns soft and creamy. It is traditionally flavored with cardamom, saffron and ghee. Although, I love the traditional version, I don’t always have the time to slowly cook rice in simmering milk, which led me to develop an easy hands off recipe that takes very little time to make and doesn’t require a lot of stirring!
I also love the flavor of coconut in desserts and one of my favorite Mangalorean desserts (vorn), made by cooking lentils in coconut milk is the inspiration behind this dessert. The coconut milk adds the most luxurious creaminess to this rice kheer and you will definitely not miss the dairy here.
The addition of beets to this rice pudding
I absolutely love the vibrant color and earthiness that beets impart to any dish and I’ve been wanting to use them in a classic Indian dessert for a long time.
The addition of beetroot to this rice kheer is the perfect combination, since the pudding by itself is very mildly flavored and takes on the subtle earthiness of the beets really well. I also loved how the flavor of the coconut milk worked well together with the sweet and earthy beets, also resulting in the most gorgeous color.
I use pre-steamed beets, that I purchased from the supermarket, to make this recipe super easy and uncomplicated. If you’d like to steam your beets at home, I’ve included instructions in the recipe card below.
Using the Instant Pot to make this rice pudding super quick and easy
I absolutely loved how quickly this rice kheer came together in the Instant Pot and I didn’t need to stir it often. I first pressure cooked the rice and tapioca in the instant pot and then added all the other ingredients to this pudding. It only takes about 5 minutes of stirring to bring this dish together.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can make this dish in either a regular pressure cooker or in a pot over the stove. I have provided the instructions for both in the recipe card below.
Additions/substitutions to this recipe
Using full-fat coconut milk in the recipe means that you don’t need to slowly cook the rice in milk for it to thicken and cuts down the recipe time considerably. If you would rather using dairy milk in the recipe, you can absolutely replace the coconut milk + water with full fat dairy milk in this recipe. The rest of the instructions will remain the same.
If you aren’t a fan of beets, you could replace them with the same amount of carrots or even totally leave them out.
Along with beets, cardamom is the primary flavoring spice in this creamy rice kheer. If you don’t like cardamom, I think both cinnamon and nutmeg would be nice replacements for cardamom in this recipe.
I love the crunch from the nuts and pops of flavor from the juicy raisins in this recipe. If you are allergic to nuts, you could replace them with sunflower or pumpkin seeds in this recipe.
The tapioca (sabudana) helps in thickening the pudding and adding a lovely chewiness that is a fun contrast to the crunchy nuts and juicy raisins. If you don’t like tapioca/can’t find it, you can replace it with extra rice instead.
Storage and reheating instructions
This rice pudding can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. The fat in the coconut milk will cause it to thicken in the refrigerator so heat the kheer either in the microwave or on the stove top until it gets warm before serving.
If the pudding gets too thick, you can loosen it with a splash of water before heating to bring it to the right consistency.
More recipes to try this Diwali/Dusshera!
If you love this recipe, here are some other delicious ones you might want to try this festive season.
Vegan beet, tapioca & rice pudding (Indian rice kheer/payasam)
- 2/3 cup rice (I use basmati rice)
- 1/4 cup sabudana/small tapioca pearls
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 can coconut milk (400ml, full fat)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (can be replaced with jaggery/brown/palm sugar)
- 2 medium beets (about 300gms, steamed and peeled –
Here'sthe one I used)
- 1 cup water (plus an extra 1/2 cup if needed)
- 1 teaspoons ground cardamom (
Here'sthe one I use)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds/pistachios (optional, for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (optional, for garnish)
- Rinse the rice and tapioca, changing water 3-4 times or until the water is clear.
Instant pot instructions
- Add the washed rice and tapioca along with 2 cups of water and salt to the instant pot and pressure cook it on high for 6 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally before opening.
Manual pressure cooker instructions
- Add the washed rice and tapioca along with 2 cups of water and salt to the pressure cooker and pressure cook it on high until the first whistle. Reduce the flame to low and cook it on low for 10 minutes before turning off the heat. Let the pressure release naturally before opening.
Stove top instructions
- Add the washed rice and tapioca along with 2 cups of water and salt to a heavy bottomed pot on the stove and let it come up to a boil on high heat. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 20 minutes.
Making the rice pudding/kheer
- Add in the can of coconut milk into the cooked rice and tapioca and mix well to combine. Cook this mixture on medium heat (either in the instant pot or stove top) and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring every minute.
- Add in your sweetener of choice and mix everything well to combine. Cook the pudding for about 2 more minutes or until the sugar dissolves and mixes well.
- In the meanwhile, blend together the steam beets (instructions to steam you own beets are below) along with 1 cup of water until it is nice and smooth. Pour the beet water mixture into the kheer and stir well to combine. Cook it for another 2-3 minutes or until it is heated through. If you find that the pudding is too thick at this point, you can add an additional 1/2 cup of water.
- Taste and adjust sweetness if desired. Take the pudding off the heat and stir in the ground cardamom.
Making the toasted cashews and raisins
- In a frying pan on medium low heat, heat the coconut oil until it melts and add in the cashews. Cook the cashews until they are lightly browned and then add in the golden raisins. Mix and cook the raisins until they puff up in the coconut oil and are rehydrated. Turn off the heat and transfer the cashews and raisins along with any excess coconut oil into the warm pudding.
- Serve the pudding in bowls, while it is still warm. Top it with pistachios/almonds/pomegranate or any of your favorite topping before serving.
- Using full-fat coconut milk in the recipe means that you don’t need to slowly cook the rice in milk for it to thicken and cuts down the recipe time considerably. If you would rather using dairy milk in the recipe, you can absolutely replace the coconut milk + water with full fat dairy milk in this recipe. The rest of the instructions will remain the same.
- If you aren’t a fan of beets, you could replace them with the same amount of peeled and steamed carrots or even totally leave them out.
- Along with beets, cardamom is the primary flavoring spice in this creamy rice kheer. If you don’t like cardamom, I think both cinnamon and nutmeg would be nice replacements for cardamom in this recipe.
- I love the crunch from the nuts and pops of flavor from the juicy raisins in this recipe. If you are allergic to nuts, you could replace them with sunflower or pumpkin seeds in this recipe.
- The tapioca (sabudana) helps in thickening the pudding and adding a lovely chewiness that is a fun contrast to the crunchy nuts and juicy raisins. If you don’t like tapioca/can’t find it, you can replace it with extra rice instead.
I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. Please leave a comment below to let me know what you think and subscribe to my social media if you would like to see more easy and delicious recipes.
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