Sabudana Payesh

Sabudana Payesh

Sabudana payesh, or a milk-based tapioca boba dessert is a delicious alternative to the standard rice pudding. It is served after meals to celebrate festivals, birthdays, weddings, or any and all happy occasions.

This version of sabudana payesh uses coconut milk instead of milk with fruits. It is served with an optional hefty raisin and cashew topping that is fried in clarified butter to make it decadent and very irresistible.

“Sabudana Payesh or Tapioca Kheer is a creamy Indian pudding made with tapioca pearls, sweetened condensed milk, and cardamom. One variation of the recipe is to make it with sweet molasses which results in a rich, jewel toned dessert.” —Joan Velush

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup medium tapioca balls, soaked in 2 cups of water overnight and strained

  • 1 teaspoon ground green cardamom

  • 1/2 cup molasses, or sweetened condensed milk

  • 3 to 4 threads saffron, optional

  • 2 tablespoons ghee

  • 1/4 cup cashews

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    sabudana payesh ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Add the coconut milk to a a heavy-duty saucpan on a medium-low heat and bring to a boil.

    coconut milk in sauce pan

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Add the tapioca balls and return mixture to a boil for 5 minutes.

    tapioca balls in pan with coconut milk

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Stir in cardamom and molasses. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes.

    molasses and cardamom added to coconut milk mixture in pot

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Remove the payesh from the heat and let cool about 10 minutes before adding the saffron strands, if using.

    finished payesh in pan off the heat

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Add ghee to a shallow pan over low heat until warm. Add the cashews and raisins and saute until the raisins puff up, and the cashews brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

    ghee in pan with fruits and nuts

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Add the raisin and cashew mixture directly to the payesh, stirring slowly until fully incorporated. 

    toasted nuts and raisins added to payesh in pan

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  8. Divide payesh into smaller serving bowls. Top each bowl with blueberries and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

    finished payesh in bowls topped with blueberries

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati


  • Make sure to keep the flame to slow or medium-low to avoid the coconut milk from sticking to the pan.
  • When frying the raisins and cashews in ghee, make sure to do so in low-heat or else they can burn easily. 
  • The recipe can be made a day or two beforehand and refrigerated prior to serving.


  • If you don’t have molasses, use ½- ¾ cup of condensed milk instead (depending on how sweet you want the payesh).
  • Add raspberries, blueberries or blackberries, or omit that if you’d like.
  • You could also replace the tapioca with ½ cup cooked basmati rice to make this a rice payesh/pudding.


You can store leftover payesh in an airtight container in the fridge for at least one week.


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