In my most recent list of Indian dishes I want to make, I included kheer, the Indian rice pudding. It is a lot more delicious and exotic than regular rice pudding. Although I would never deny a Mexican rice pudding either.
I finally got all the ingredients I needed to make kheer, and two afternoons ago, I made kheer for the first time, and I did with success. The recipe is very simple.
I don’t follow recipes very well. I am a self-taught cook, and online recipes and Google info about food have been my inspirations and teachers. To make anything, I usually look up a recipe, in fact I look up many recipes of the same thing, and choose the best one for me. I always have the intention to follow the recipe exactly, but I never end up doing that. I make tweaks and substitutions along the way, and honestly, it always comes out good, at least my husband says so, and I believe him because he is very honest and not one to sugar coat anything.
So here is what I did to make kheer…
I chopped the nuts: pistachios, almonds, and cashews.
I am already making tweaks by chopping more nuts than the recipe needed. When I was taking this picture I thought: “whoa! it even looks like India!” I did not do it on purpose. Am I going crazy?
Then I fried the nuts in ghee (clarified butter) for a few minutes until lightly browned.
I set the nuts aside, to use the pot for the rest of the cooking.
Having good quality cookware is a worthy investment. It allows for better control of your food, easier cleaning, and longer lasting. A stainless steel kadhai is great for this kheer, or a red copper pan for many different uses, is a great option, too.
Then, I fried the rice in the same pot with leftover ghee, for a few minutes. I was supposed to add the milk now, but instead, I added some water to cook the rice further, and then the milk. Why did I do that? I read that for 1/4 cup of rice, 4 cups of milk are needed to cook the rice and let the milk reduce for 20-30min. So, to save time and milk, I boiled the rice in 1/4 cup of water for about 3-5 min, and then added 1 1/2 cups of milk to finish cooking the rice and let the milk reduce until ready.
Brought the milk to a boil, lowered the flame and let the milk reduce for about 15min. Stirring often.
In the meantime, I crushed the seeds of one cardamom pod in my mortar and pestle to make about 1/4 tsp of cardamom powder, and got the pinch of saffron ready.
I tried the rice for readiness and added half of the nuts, a pinch of saffron which I rolled between my fingers to release the flavour, and the cardamom powder, then mixed well. I totally forgot about the coconut, it is not necessary but will definitely add it next time because I love coconut.
Then, I added the rest of the nuts for garnish.
Gone in 3 seconds. (Maybe more, I am terrible at estimating passing time.)
What’s great about this dessert is that it can be served hot or cold. I had it warm, freshly made. And Josh, a couple hours later, woke up from his nap and tasted it cold. It makes me happy when he likes my desserts because he doesn’t have a sweet tooth. He really liked it. His words were: “wow, the flavors really come out the more you eat it. If they gave you more time to cook, you could win MasterChef.” I guess we watch too many cooking competition shows and he thinks I take too long to cook. It’s funny that he really meant it, but he is totally wrong. There is no way I could win, but it was nice to hear and see him eat his whole serving.
Kheer - Indian Rice Pudding Recipe
1/4 cup short/medium grained rice (rinsed and drained) I used basmati.
1/4 cup water
2 cups milk (whole is best for this dessert)
1-3 tbsp of chopped nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios. use one or all.)
5 raisins or more if you like (I left these out because I’m not a fan)
1 tsp ghee
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
a pinch of saffron
3 tbsp of sugar
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp of grated coconut (optional)
1/2 tsp rosewater (optional)
1. In a saucepan heat the ghee, add the nuts and raisins. Set aside when raisins are plump and nuts are lightly browned.
2. In the same pan, fry the rice for a about 3 minutes in low heat.
3. Add the water and cook the rice for about 5 min.
4. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Stir so the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom, and don’t let the milk burn. Add sugar.
5. Reduce the heat and let the milk reduce until a pudding like consistency and the rice is cooked. Stir the milk often. About 20 minutes.
6. Add the rest of the ingredients: saffron, cardamom powder, coconut, rosewater, salt, and half of the nuts and raisins.
7. Give it a stir and let sit for a couple minutes. Garnish with the remaining nuts.
Serve warm or cold.
Notes: You can also use half coconut milk and half whole milk. And you can also use sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar.