Its been 11 months since I started writing “Spicy Notes” and this is my 100th Post on the blog. A wonderful journey indeed…..thanks to all my lovely readers and followers who have constantly been there and motivated me to do better.
As this is my 100th Post!! it calls for a celebration, and no celebration is complete without something sweet, in Hindi we say “Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye” (Let’s have something sweet) The first thing that came to my mind was “Kheer” yes our very own Indian rice pudding, and why not its one sweet dish which is a part of most celebrations across our nation.
“Kheer” is also known as “Payasam or Payasa” in South India, “Payesh” in Bengal, In many temples Kheer is cooked as and offering to God and later served as “Prasad” or “Bhog” to devoties. According to legends the origin of kheer dates back to the days of “Lord Krishna”.
Being born and grown up in Kolkatta I have a special connection with the Bengali culture and cuesine and “Kheer” or “Payesh” plays an important role here. It is the first solid food which is given to a child when he or she is almost 6 months old, the ritual is called “Annaprashon”. Its an occasion for celebration which is attended by the extended family and friends.
In North India when the bride comes to the bridegrooms house for the first time after marriage there is a function known as “Chauka Cchulai”, the newely wed bride would be cooking for the first time in the bridegrooms house and symbolises the official handover of the “Bhandara Keys” (Keys to the pantry or grossery store room)….and “Kheer” is one of the five dishes which she cooks.
“Kheer” is a traditional Indian desert, which is cooked throughout India, an essential dish in many feasts and celebration across regions and relegions. Indian food is as diverse as India itself, hence regional variations in recipes are common and the one that I am about to share is from Northern India. A traditional recipe which has a thick n creamy texture and loaded with dry fruits….
Rice – 1/4th cup
Full cream Milk – 6 cups
Sugar – 1/2 cups
Green Cardamom, powdered – 4
Almonds – 10 – 12
Pistachios – 12 – 14
Cashew – 6-8
Raisins – 1 tablespoon
Clean and wash rice until the water is clear. Soak rice in water for 45 minutes to an hour. Once the rice is soaked well and has softened crush the rice into small pieces.
Heat milk in a heavy bottom pan, once the milk comes to a boil add powdered cardamom, reduce heat and let it simmer on low flame for 8-10 minutes.
Add rice, stir and let the rice cook in milk, keep checking and stir the rice ocassionally to avoid the formation of any lumps. This will also avoid the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep scraping the dried milk from the side of the pan and add to the milk in the pan.
While the kheer is cooking, blanch the almonds and pistachios, and chop them.( please see notes below for blanching ). Slit the Cashew into halves.
Once the rice is almost done, and the milk starts to thicken add the chopped nuts mix well and add the sugar. When you add sugar, the sugar melts and the kheer becomes a bit runny but don’t worry, continue cooking and stir ocassionaly. This is the most critical time as once you add sugar there are chances that the kheer will stick to the bottom of the pan, so be alert. Very important don’t forget to scrape the dried milk on the sides of the pan and keep adding it to the pan.
By now the kheer would also thicken, add the raisins, mix well and turn off the flame.
Pour the kheer into individual servings, garnish with some chopped almonds and pistachios and enjoy it hot, warm or even cold.
I have used Basmati rice for making the Kheer, hence had to break it, by doing so the rice will cook faster and the kheer will have a thick creamy consistency. However if you use small grain rice, the result would be the same.
For this Kheer recipe I have used full cream milk as we want the kheer to be thick and creamy, but if you want you could use lowfat milk too.
Please note that the kheer will thicken up even after you turn off the flame so I suggest that you turn off the flame before it reaches the desired consistency.
Blanching – Is a process of cooking in which the fruit or vegetable and in this case Almonds and pistachios are put into hot boiling water, for a very short time, removed and put into ice cold water or under running water to stop the cooking process.
When we blanch Almonds and Pistachios, the skin becomes soft and can be easilly removed.
I have blanched the nuts in the microwave as it is very easy and comes handy.
Put the almonds in a microwave safe bowl, add enough water so its well immersed and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.