December 9th, 2008

Kheer/Creamy Rice Pudding

Kheer/Creamy Rice Pudding

After much thought and delay due to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances, avoidable and unavoidable hurdles, I’m finally writing my first post. To state that I’m excited would be an understatement. When it came to deciding the subject of my first post, I thought what could be better than the rice kheer? Thoughts of luscious grains of fully cooked rice, blended with creamy condensed milk, exotic spices, dry fruits and nuts flooded my mind. And this is my tribute to the much revered dish that I cook so often and is wholeheartedly relished, savoured and devoured by my beloved R.


Widely known as chaval kheer in north India, payasa or payasam in Southern India, usually a bit thinner than its northern counterpart and Payesh in Bengal or simply kheer in most parts of India, it is cooked in homes across India with a few variations and combinations. It is even cooked in ancient Indian temples and is one of the most prized delicacies of the 2,000 year old Jagannatha temple in the Indian state of Orissa.


According to K.T. Achaya in A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, Kheer is a sweet confection, based on rice. The Hindi word kheer derives from the Sanskrit ksheer for milk and Kshirika for any dish prepared with milk.

Although I have tasted some of the best versions of Kheer made with rice in various temples and homes, one of the best Kheers I have come across was made by this feisty Punjabi lady who happens to be my mother’s neighbour. Her Kheer was simple, mainly milk and rice cooked for a long period, and without many garnishings.

Many people these days use store bought condensed milk to thicken the kheer and to lessen cooking time. I did this once, but after making it several times using the traditional method of cooking the milk for a long period, I find it not only superior in terms of taste but also rewarding in terms of the inner satisfaction that one experiences when you labour over something you want to create.

If you plan to embark upon making this recipe, do so on a leisurely weekend or when you have plenty of time on hand.

Chaval Kheer/Creamy Rice Pudding Recipe

This recipe is based on the kheer that is made as an offering to the deity of Lord Krishna in the temple kitchens of the famous Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan, India,  which I had the good fortune of tasting. A beautiful blend of rice and milk, sweetened with sugar and raisins, spiced with cardamom and studded with almonds and pistachios. This rich dessert is a treat to the senses.

Ingredients

¼ cup/50 gm Basmati or any other fragrant long grained rice
8 cups/2 litres Milk
½ cup/100 gm Sugar
2 tbsp slivered plain unsalted pistachios
2 tbsp blanched and slivered almonds
¾ tsp saffron
1 tbsp hot milk to soak the saffron
1 tbsp raisins
¾ tsp cardamom

Method:

Wash the rice and soak it with enough water to cover the rice for about 5 minutes and then drain the water and allow to dry. Soak the saffron in the 1 tbsp hot milk.  Heat the 2 litres milk in a wide heavy bottomed pan or kadhai on a medium flame, and bring to a rolling boil. This should take about 15 minutes.  Lower the flame a little, add the rice, slivered almonds and pistachios and cook for 15 minutes more. Crush the soaked saffron in a mortar and pestle or with your fingers to extract a deep orange colour and flavour from it. Put the saffron extract into the boiling milk mixture and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Now lower the flame and add sugar and raisins. Continue to cook it for 15 minutes more on the lowest flame. Stir in the cardamom powder. Bring to room temperature and chill for a minimum of 3 hours before serving.

Note- The kheer continues to thicken a bit while chilling in the refrigerator, therefore don’t make the kheer very thick while cooking it. You can add a few spoons of lightly sweetened milk if the kheer in the refrigerator is too thick for your liking.

Serves: 4 to 6

Cooking time: Almost 1 hour

Filed Under: Almond, Anniversary, Basmati Rice, Birthday, Cardamom (green), Comfort Food, Dairy Products, Dessert, Diwali, Family Get Together, Fruits, Gluten-free Recipes, Id, Indian, Janmashtami, Milk, North India, Pistachio, Potluck Party, Raisin, Rice, Saffron, Sugar (granulated), Sweets and Desserts · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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Comments (24 Comments)

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  1. Your Sister :) says:

    Here’s ur very first congratulatory note and query too :)

    First of, congratulations!!! Am super thrilled about the site going live!!! I’ve seen your passion getting translated from the kitchen to the books to the site… and I sure see it going places!

    By the way, what is the ideal lunch menu (considering the kheer is so heavy… it ought to be had for lunch… right?) that will compliment the dessert?

  2. Anushruti says:

    Thanks Simi. The accompaniments to this should ideally be wheat and vegetable based to bring about a balance in textures and flavours. Roti, sabzis, chutney and dal will combine beautifully with this as a dessert. As far as having it for lunch or dinner, you can skip dinner entirely and have it all by itself. 😉

  3. ritika says:

    Amazing presentation,
    ……..feels like taking a spoon digging into the KHEER bowl and savouring it.

    Waiting for more and more delicious recipies!!!!

  4. Pankaja says:

    Congratulations!! What a start!! Nothing better than Kheer. We south Indians start our Food course with Payasam..

  5. Narayan Hegde says:

    Anu, now that you have launched this website, aptly named ‘divinetaste’, I can think of no one better suited than you – your Ammamma’s granddaughter – to preserve and propagate the the dying art of Havyaka cuisine. I have great expectations from you.

    Your Narayananna Uncle

  6. Shilpa says:

    Hi anu,
    Wow the site and the concept is simply superb..great..
    Heartiest congratulations and wish u all the very best to u..
    Take care.
    Shilpa

  7. Marija Kone says:

    Bravo Anushruti!
    The concept of the site is good and the photo galery too. But the best are your instructions for preparing the dishes. I couldn’t expect the divine – egless chocolate cake – but it looks the best with mango fruit. I’ll try soon, and expect to be tastefull like it looks fabulous.
    Thank you dear Anushruti.
    Marija

  8. This is the kind of thing I try to teach people. Can I expect a sequel?

  9. Bavi says:

    This recipe was very good Anu. Thanks for sharing it.

  10. Anushruti says:

    Bavi: It is one of my absolute favourites! A delight to make!

  11. NSJ says:

    Hi Anushruti,
    I made kheer yesterday, using your recipe of course and it turned out to be the creamiest and yummiest kheer I’ve ever had!! Loved it!! Thanks so much!
    NSJ

  12. Rama Devi says:

    Hi Anushruti,
    Wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali. :)
    Made this kheer today. It was yum! Thank you! :)
    Rama Devi

  13. Anushruti says:

    Rama Devi: You are most welcome. Thanks for your wishes and wish you and your family the same.

  14. Nalini says:

    Looks delicious!

    It is a popular notion that preparation of delectable kheer mandates the use of condensed milk.

    My mother makes payasam by pressure-cooking the milk, saffron and a handful of rice for a while, thereby rendering it a taste, consistency and colour that makes almost everyone who happens to have it, wonder if she uses condensed milk! Besides, the method is a huge time and energy-saver..

    Your twist of adding Pistachios & Almonds makes it all the more drool-worthy!

  15. Anushruti says:

    Nalini: Using a pressure cooker is a definite time saver and I use it many a time but when it comes to making kheer, I love to cook it on the pot for a long time and revel in the process. Also, in my experience kheer made by cooking on low heat for an hour or more has incomparable taste especially when you consider it with other cooking methods. The recipe above is a very traditional one and in that temple pistachios and almonds are always put in the kheer.

  16. Gurdev Singh says:

    Really great recipe helped me….

  17. Jayashree says:

    Hi. I do not have saffron threads with me. Can I skip that in the recipe and still get a good colour for the kheer?

  18. Jayashree says:

    Hi again. I made the kheer and I used a pinch of food colour instead of saffron threads. It came out wonderful except that the sweetness was on the lower side. Is it because typical South Indian payasam is very sweet?? Can I add more sugar, say 3/4 cup?

  19. Anushruti says:

    Jayashree: If you want that saffron colour, then I recommend using saffron only as it is not only natural but also unmatched in delicate flavour. You could also skip saffron altogether in this recipe and get a creamy white kheer. This is not a typical South Indian payasam. Like I said in the post, this kheer is based on a temple recipe from Vrindavan, North India. I have cooked this recipe n number of times and find the sweetness just right, provided it is cooked and reduced to the consistency mentioned in the recipe. If you reduce the milk less, then you might want to add extra sugar. Adjust it according to your liking.

  20. Jayashree says:

    Thank you!

  21. Raj Kumar Verma says:

    It is really nice…It reminds of mahaprasadam….I cooked for the first time..was short of few items but enjoyed the process & taste throughly…Thanks

  22. Amruta says:

    Yummy kheer Anushruti & like always….the pics are more satiating. Plz let me know if we can substitute sugar with jaggery,since I thoroughly encourage & love sweets with jaggery.

    Best,

  23. Anushruti says:

    Amruta: I love sweets with jaggery too. But for this particular kheer, I use sugar.

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