Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recipe: Kheer, Indian Rice Pudding

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat! – Pink Floyd, The Wall

I put some of my Kheer in mugs for individual servings before refrigerating.
This is the recipe I promised that would use the cardamom extract I posted a couple days ago (HERE). If you look, you will see making your own is extremely easy and would have many uses in baked goods.

You start with a little rice and a lot of milk. This is a double batch.
If you haven’t any cardamom extract you can “make do” with cardamom pods. Same result. In fact it’s usually made with cardamom pods, but then you have to fish them out of the finished pudding.

Some people like rice pudding – others hate it. How about if we decided to agree to disagree, or perhaps even better “split the difference”? This recipe for Indian rice pudding is actually closer to a crème as used in crème brulée or crème caramel if you ask me. Not quite, but sort of…

One main difference? You start with a very small quantity of rice – far less than rice pudding – and it’s cooked so long the grains nearly disappear. The rice is there more for the starch than anything else I believe.

The end result? Very small bits of very soft rice rice in a very rich, creamy base. This is traditionally served with raisins and nuts sprinkled on top, but I can see honey used, or possibly even finished as a brulée with a caramelized top.

This is the Kheer reduced to half.
What is Kheer?
Kheer is a traditional Indian and Southeast Asian rice pudding. It has been made for at least 2,000 years. It is often served or flavoured with raisins, cardamom, saffron, pistachios and/or almonds. It is often served as part of a meal or alone as a dessert. 

Kheer is an essential dish in many Hindu festival celebrations. English rice pudding is believed by some to be descended from Kheer.

More southern regions sometimes substitute coconut milk for the dairy and serve it with bananas. I understand from research that it is thicker than the milk version.

You can make Kheer two ways: thick and set, or creamier. If you reduce it to 1/2 volume you will get the latter. If you reduce to 1/3 it will set up quite nicely once refrigerated.

I did two things in my preparing this delicious dessert. I cooked it to 1/3 and I also doubled the recipe. I now have tons of Kheer. Some may think too much, but I’m sure I can find ways “deal” with it!

I really enjoy this dessert. It’s very satisfying. It’s been way too long since I made it last. More than likely at least 15 years… That’s something I have to correct.

This is reduced to 1/3. It begins to "spit" and is quite thick.
Kheer, Indian Rice Pudding
Makes enough to serve 6-8
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup basmati rice
8 cups whole milk (2 L)
1/4 or 1/3 cup sugar
pinch of saffron (optional)
1 tsp extract of cardamom (or 3 crushed green cardamom pods)

In a large saucepan with a heavy bottom (or better yet, non-stick), heat the butter and toast the rice for between 2-3 minutes on low heat. 

Then add the milk and sugar. Increase the heat to med-high and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the mixture is reduced to about 1/2 to 1/3 of the original volume. For 2 L this will take about 1 to 1.5 hours. (My 4 L took 2.5 hours!)

Tend the pot. Stir the milk occasionally. Don’t let it scorch to the bottom or the whole thing will be burnt tasting and you’ll have to start over. A non-stick pan helps. For the last half hour you will probably be stirring very often and the mixture will bubble and spit.

Remove from the heat. Add the saffron and cardamom extract and stir gently. 

This is rich stuff and will thicken more when refrigerated. If you wish to thin it to serve add a little more milk, or when cooking only reduce it down to 1/2 instead of to 1/3.


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