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Beet and rice pudding (Indian rice kheer)

Vegan beet, tapioca & rice pudding (Indian rice kheer/payasam)

This gorgeous, sweet and creamy rice pudding is a popular Indian dessert called rice kheer/payasam and my vegan & gluten free version gets its vibrant color and beautiful flavor from beets!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Desserts
Cuisine Indian, Indian Fusion
Servings 8
Calories 307 kcal


  • cup rice (I use basmati rice)
  • ¼ cup sabudana/small tapioca pearls
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 can coconut milk (400ml, full fat)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (can be replaced with jaggery/brown/palm sugar)
  • 2 medium beets (about 300gms, steamed and peeled - Here's the one I used)
  • 1 cup water (plus an extra ½ cup if needed)
  • 1 teaspoons ground cardamom (Here's the one I use)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ 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 ½ 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
If you aren't using pre-steamed beets, here's how you steam them:
First, wash and trim the tops and roots of the beets. 
Instant pot/pressure cooker:
Grab your Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) and add 1 cup of water into the insert. Place a steamer insert inside and arrange the beets in a single layer on top. Close the lid with the sealing ring attached and pressure cook on high pressure for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your beets). Small beets will only take about 10 minutes, while larger beets may take up to 20. After it's done cooking, release the pressure manually and open the lid. 
Stove Top:
Grab a heavy bottomed pot add 2 cups of water into it. Place a steamer insert inside and arrange the beets in a single layer on top. Cover the pot with a tight filling lid. Heat the pot on high until the water comes up to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium high and let the beets steam for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Small beets will only take about 20 minutes, while larger beets may take up to 30. After it's done cooking, carefully open the lid.
Insert an skewer into the beets to check if they are done cooking. If the skewer goes in without too much resistance, it is done. Let the beets cool completely before slicing the top off and peeling them.