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If you were to remember the first ever sweet that you tasted in life at six months, you would remember the sweet taste of rice kheer. A part of the ‘annaprashan’ fare, rice kheer is given to children as a symbol of starting them on regular food and puréed solids. But the kheer given to infants is fairly thin in consistency so that they don’t suffer from indigestion.
When made generally, rice kheer is a staple desert in almost all parts of India. It is also made with vermicelli to make semiya kheer. When made with broken rice and slightly different method, you’ll have delicious phirni. Like most things, kheer too takes on different flavours and consistency depending on which part of India it is made. Kheer is served both warm and chilled and generally after a full meal. Sometimes kheer can also be made with leftover rice.
The taste of the kheer also tends to vary slightly because of the rice use. Basmati rice is preferred in north India while half boiled rice is preferred in south India.
- 1/2 cup Rice (washed and soaked)
- 8 tablespoons Sugar
- 1 litre Milk
- 4 Green Cardamoms
- Few Saffron Strands
- 10 Almonds (blanched and skin removed)
- 10 Pistachios
Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
Cut the almonds and pistas into slivers.
In a deep, thick bottom pan take the milk and the green cardamoms. On low flame let it come to a boil.
Take out about 4 tablespoons of the hot milk in a small bowl. Soak the saffron strands in this.
Now, drain the rice and add to the boiling milk. Adjust flame to medium and let them cook.
Stir once in awhile and also scrape the sides where the milk starts to thicken. Add the scraped milk back.
Lower the flame if the milk starts to boil out of the pan. Keep on adjusting the flame between low and medium. Every few minutes scrape the sides as well.
In about 25 minutes, the rice will be almost cooked and the milk will have thickened quite a bit.
At this point, add the sugar and the saffron infused milk. Lower the flame and simmer for 5 minutes. Shut off the heat and add the slivered almonds and pistas.
Cover the pan with a lid. Let stand for 5 minutes. The almonds and pistas will also get cooked in the heat.
Remove the cardamoms. Serve the kheer either hot or chilled. The kheer will thicken on cooling so adjust the cooking time and consistency accordingly.
Dry fruits in the rice kheer give it a nice crunch. Though most people use only a handful of dry fruits, its great if you want to add more and make your kheer rich and tasty. Though you can add the almonds, cashews and pistachios directly, it gives an added flavour if you first fry them in home made ghee and then add it to your kheer. It is important to add cardamom towards the end when the kheer is almost done so that it doesn’t lose its flavour and aroma.
Also, raisins (if adding) should be added only after you’ve switched off the kheer and it is slightly cooled. In fact, you can use soaked raisin as a topping to the kheer just before you serve. Raisins naturally tangy flavour can make the kheer go bad quickly so it is best to add it only when you are sure of finishing the whole lot.