The auspicious rice kheer

10:28 PM


Today morning I was awakened by a call of my mother-in-law. Looking at my watch I knew it had to be for some reason, else weekends are the time for regular chit chats, not early morning. And it was; she called to remind that today was the festival of "Badmavas" a day when married women pray for the well-being of their husband, very similar to vat savitri celebrated in other parts of India. Though living in Bahrain I and not India, I wouldn't find a Vat tree, as done in the proper way; yet I could complete other parts of the puja. Like listening (and narrating as well in my case) the story of the venerated Savitri, who saved her husband from the Lord Yama (God of death). And the other part was the preparation of the puja by making the "puja meal". 

The "puja meal" made at almost all festivals and auspicious days in our homes varies slightly from occasion to occasion but mostly it consists of "puri-sabji & kheer". This is what is offered to Gods and then eaten as "prasad" by the family. So yes "rice-kheer" in Indian households is the most revered sweet (close to suji halwa). Its a sweet dish made at any small or big occasions and loved by all the generations. This rice pudding is a very simple dish of milk, sugar, rice and some nuts....but it requires some patience to get the right consistency and creaminess. I simply cannot have a kheer which is runny or mushy, that just tastes like having your rice with milk. They need to be married together in a harmony to have the bliss. And I had my bliss with this bowl of pure comfort.


Rice Kheer Recipe
Ingredients:

1/4th cup long grain rice (washed and drained)
4-5 cups milk
2-3 cardamom seeds (crushed)
2 tbsp almonds (blanched silvered)
A pinch of saffron threads, soaked in a little hot milk
1 tbsp skinned pistachio nuts (chopped)
1 tbsp raisins (optional)
2-3 tbsp sugar or as desired
Rose Essence/ Kewra Jal - 1tsp (optional) I added vanilla essence and it tasted good 


Method:
  • Put milk in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Bring it to gentle boil 
  • Add rice and put the milk on simmer and cook gently stirring so ensuring it doesn't stick to pan. Let the rice turn soft, the grains will start to break up and will soon make the kheer creamier, around 20-25 mins.
  • Add the cardamom, saffron and chopped nuts and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Remove the rice kheer from heat and serve either warm or chilled.


Notes: 
It's important to keep a watch on the kheer and preferably stir it with a wooden or plastic spatula. Steel spatula might scarp the base of the pan, adding a bad taste to the kheer. 
Always grind cardamoms, just before using. 
Choice and quantity of nuts is a matter of taste. Adjust to suit yours.
Always add sugar in the end of cooking, else it stops the cooking process and might leave your rice slightly uncooked.

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