Traditional Punjabi kheer (rice pudding)

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As  we mentioned in our previous post, we recently returned from Italy. The next day, Easter Sunday, our neighbour handed us a plate of roast dinner and said cheerily, “Enjoy!” (thank God for good neighbours!) which meant no cooking on our part which was just as well as most of the shops around us were shut. So of course, we had to return the favour with something special, which means KHEER. It would have been easier to so thank you with a bottle of wine but nothing says thank you like 1) putting time in the kitchen and 2) giving someone something that they wouldn’t make themselves. (And this was before the heatwave when clearly rice pudding was more palatable!)

There are tons of kheer recipes out there and we’ve made a few different versions (see Baked Kheer and Tropical Kheer). But I was interested in the Kesari Kheer recipe in Jiggs Kalra and Pushpesh Pant’ book “Classic Cooking of Punjab”. Once made, it tasted just like the kheer we tasted while growing up in Delhi – super sweet with hints of cardamom and saffron. Saffron is an expensive ingredient, but definitely worth it for this dish. It’s definitely a recipe for kheer purists 🙂

Serves 2-4

1.5 litre full fat milk
75g Basmati rice, washed
15g ghee
125g golden caster sugar
5g green cardamom powder or two drops of essence
20g flaked almonds
[15g raisins – optional, because we can’t stand raisins]
1g saffron soaked in 30ml lukewarm milk or two drops of essence

  1. Boil milk in a pan and then remove from the heat.
  2. Heat ghee in a separate pan and add the rice. Fry gently until it starts to change colour (but don’t let it burn!). [The recipe says you should soak for 1 hour but we’re impatient – plus the kheer gets a lovely slightly toasted flavour.]
  3. Add the boiled milk slowly and carefully (as it will splutter). Bring to boil and stir constantly so rice doesn’t stick.
  4. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the kheer is thickened and the rice is soft. You can mash some of the rice on the sides to give the kheer a thicker consistency (like a loose custard).
  5. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and stir for a minute.
  7. Transfer to a bowl or individual bowls and enjoy either immediately or refrigerate and enjoy cold. The next day, the kheer tastes even better!

So what do you think? Feel free to share your questions and comments below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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