I tend to eat fruit smoothies for breakfast but with the changing seasons I have been craving something more substantial and comforting. What I really wanted was porridge, but at the same time did not want porridge. You know what I am talking about, you can’t decide what you really want and don’t want to compromise either. So I took to the internet in search of something that would satisfy my cravings and came across a great alternative to porridge, Kheer.
Kheer is an Indian pudding, it is also known as Payesh, Payasam, or Payasa throughout South Asia. Kheer is mostly prepared for consumption at festivals, religious feasts or other special occasions and is served as the dessert part of the meal, which is not necessarily at the end of a meal in South Asia but can be in the middle of the meal or at the beginning. Typically made from milk and rice then spiced with cardamon, saffron and sugar and garnished with pistachios, raisins cashews and/or almonds. Other variations include dry fruits, rose water or the use of vermicelli noodles. Kheer is also often served chilled as it thickens up as it cools.
For my version I used Coconut Dream brand as I do not drink milk from animals, but feel free to use whatever type of milk you prefer. One note I will make about the milk is that it is recommended that full-fat milk is used as the fat will help thicken the pudding up. I also suggest using fresh bay leaves and whole cardamon pods as this really help flavour the dish. As it happens I could not find any cardamon pods so opted for ground cardamon which does work almost as well. Also, you do not need to use rock sugar, plain white sugar works fine, I just prefer rock sugar. I have also heard that honey can be used but have yet to try it this way myself. For the garnishing you can either drop them into the pudding near the end or sprinkle them on top once served.
If you have ever had rice pudding you will notice that there is noticeable likeness to all of the variations, mainly that it is rice, milk and spices. I myself, grew up eating traditional English style rice pudding which was baked in the oven and often used previously cooked rice. However, sometimes it is nice to see what other similar dishes from around the world are out there. I plan on eating my Kheer tonight for a yummy dessert, and probably for breakfast tomorrow morning, if there is any left.
- ½ Cup basmati rice
- 3 Cups milk
- 2-3 Bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp ground cardamon or 4 green cardamon pods slightly crushed
- 1 Tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp rock sugar or 1 Tbsp regular white sugar (more or less depending on taste)
- Handful of pistachios, raisins, almond slivers and chopped cashews for garnish
- Boil milk in medium size pot, keep watch as you do not want to let it overheat. Once milk has started to boil add bay leaves and cardamon. Boil milk for another 5 minutes.
- Wash rice thoroughly and add to milk. Lower heat to medium and stir rice every now and then to make sure it is not sticking to bottom of pot. Cook rice for at least an hour, or until rice is tender, you don't want it mushy just slightly chewy.
- Once milk has nearly evaporated, and mixture had thickened up add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve completely. At this time take out the bay leaves and cook until milk is just about gone. Stir in nuts and raisins and transfer pudding to serving dishes. Cool dishes for at least 2 hours or overnight. The longer the pudding cools the thicker it will become. You can also transfer pudding to containers to be eaten another day.