Mystery, fantasy, mastery. I am talking about Kheer or rather Indian Rice Pudding, a pudding that takes the mind and the senses to a very exotic place. This is not the first time a dessert has shown the ability to take us higher, but usually those deserts involve chocolate. This dessert is different. No chocolate, no alcohol, no obvious coating of the mouth - just sugar, milk, rice and a few other simple companions. Perhaps it is the fragrance of the cardamom? Or the hue of the saffron? May be it is the silkiness of the rice pudding against the robustness of pistachios and almonds – a playful experience don’t you think?
Whilst in many parts of the world, Kheer is considered comfort food, in India, Kheer holds a prestige value. Some loyalists like it just the way it is whilst others enjoy it in its full splendor with perhaps some nuts and dried fruits, a sprinkle of rose petals and edible silver leaf. You totally know where I am going with this.
When I met my husband, 12 years ago, he very quickly revealed to me that kheer and tiramisu were his favorite desserts. My mother-in law had mastered how to make what I consider to be the perfect kheer, and she was happy to pass the baton forward. This is the recipe I share with you today with just a small tweak here and there. It is creamily delicious with a touch of cardamom to counterbalance the dairy.
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- 5 ½ cups of milk
- ½ cup Basmati rice, washed and drained (available at any large supermarket)
- 4 strands saffron
- 3 pods of cardamom
- ¾ cup of sweet condensed milk
- Sprinkle a garnish of any of the following: dried fruits, nuts, edible silver leaf
1) In a heavy bottomed pan, bring the milk and rice to a boil and reduce to a simmer
2) In a mortar and pestle, break down the saffron strands and cardamom pods and add to the milk and rice
3) Simmer for approximately 40 minutes or until the rice is fully cook and begins to break down
4) Add the condensed milk and serve hot or cold with garnish sprinkled over the top
Saira Malhotra, is of British –Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: Passport Pantry where she shares approachable and international recipes.