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Kheer- Indian Rice Pudding

Kheer is popular dessert from north indian cuisine. It’s simple to make, comforting, creamy and rich and needs few basic ingredients to make for a perfect dessert anytime you crave something sweet.
Rice kheer is a traditional North Indian rice pudding made with fragrant basmati rice, sugar, full fat milk and cardamom. You can also flavor it with saffron or rose water if you like. Kheer is a treat perfect for celebrations and festivals. There are a many ways of making kheer all across India differing from home to home and cook to cook. From the consistency of kheer to how its its sweetened to the choice of nuts, it is a dessert which can be personalized to taste and one’s preferences.

I used to be the helper whenever kheer was cooked in our house. Kheer was slow cooked and I was given the responsibility of stirring it. Kheer needs a lot of stirring, compare it to the process of making a risotto but with three times the time needed. It is a very therapeutic process for me.

Perfectly cooked kheer is creamy and luscious without use of any heavy cream, condensed milk or cornstarch. The idea is to slowly cook the rice in full fat milk, as the rice cooks, the grains break down and the rice starches dissolve in milk, which combined with the fat of milk result in a smooth creamy kheer. A well made kheer needs time and patience- it is best slow cooked and really even though there are many recipes floating around to make it in instant pot and what not, the taste is no comparison. Pick up a slow afternoon and after an hour and a half you will have a pot of deliciousness ready to go.

Keep the following things in mind when you make kheer :-

  1. Always choose a heavy pot with a wide mouth. Heavy pot makes sure that the milk won’t burn and the temperature of the milk is maintained perfectly. You can use a cast iron pot, a stainless steel pot or your dutch oven.
  2. Always rinse the pot before adding the milk. Don’t wipe after the rinse, you will notice that the milk or rice will never stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Rice Quality :- Use good quality basmati rice which is not very new, old basmati rice has a nicer aroma and the starches are robust. You can use brown rice as well, make sure to choose brown basmati rice. Even fragrant short grain like jasmine also work great in this recipe.
  4. Milk Quality:- Use full fat milk. This is how traditionally kheer is made. There is no khoya or evaporated milk or condensed milk needed, if you use whole milk, it will reduce during slow cooking and as the rice cooks in it, the thick consistency will be achieved.
  5. Sweetener :- Use sugar, jaggery or even condensed milk, coconut sugar or honey, however you would like to sweeten it. There is no hard or fast rule here but keep in mind that the taste of the kheer will be different depending on the sweetener. Traditionally sugar is used, but my husband likes the taste of jaggery so I use that. See point 9.
  6. Always soak the rice before cooking. This ensures even cooking of rice.
  7. We like creamy, thick kheer so the cooking times indicated in the recipe are as per that. Cook a little less longer if you like a runny kheer. As i said before, this recipe can be used as per your preference.
  8. How long it can be kept? :- Rice kheer keeps good for 2-3 days in the fridge. You can reheat on a stove before serving.
  9. Thickness of Kheer :- The more you stir and cook down or reduce the kheer, the thicker it gets. After the kheer has cooked, once you add sugar or jaggery or condensed milk, you will notice that the consistency of kheer will become thin again.The remedy for this is to return the kheer to the stove and again cook for about 10 minutes or so after adding the sugar and condensed milk. However, cooking again is not possible if you are using jagger. So, make sure that the kheer os cooked to a rich thicker consistency to start with.
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5 from 1 vote

Rice Kheer – North Indian Rice Pudding

Traditional rice kheer (pudding) recipe made with full fat milk, basmati rice, jaggery (or sugar) and scented with green cardamom.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 5

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup basmati rice
  • 4 cups full fat milk
  • 8 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts of choice
  • 1/2 cup jaggery powder (can be reduced to 1/3 cup) , see notes for other sweeteners

Instructions

  • Wash rice 2-3 times under a stream of water until the water runs clear. Add enough water to cover the rice and let soak for 30 minutes. This helps in even cooking of rice.
  • Rinse a wide and heavy pot with water. Dont wipe the water. Add milk and green cardamom to the pot. Set the milk pot on a low medium stove to boil.
  • In the mean time warm ghee in a pan and lightly toast the nuts in it. You can deep fry nuts in more ghee if you wish. Transfer to a plate and set aside. You can chop them as small or big as you like once they cool down.
  • When you see that the milk is starting to boil, drain and add the soaked rice to the milk. Immediately start stirring else the rice will stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Now let the rice cook in milk for the next 45 minutes or so. Keep the stove on low medium and keep on stirring the milk often and scraping the sides and mixing with milk as needed.
  • Slowly the rice will cook and break down into small pieces and the kheer with start becoming thick.
  • By the end of 45 minutes you will see that the kheer is thick, the milk and rice are not seperate and it resembles a thick custard. If you like a runny kheer, cook for about 35 minutes. You decide how much to reduce the milk depending on the consistency you like.
  • Take off the stove and let cool down a bit. Once a little cool, add the jaggery powder and mix in. Dont cook after you have added the jaggery powder else the kheer will curdle.
  • You can pick and discard the cardamom seeds at the end of cooking. If you like a stronger cardamom taste, add 1/4 tsp ground cardamom powder. 
  • If you want to serve warm, garnish with nuts and serve rightaway. Else chill for a few hours and serve.

Notes

  • Always choose a heavy pot with a wide mouth. Heavy pot makes sure that the milk won’t burn and the temperature of the milk is maintained perfectly. You can use a cast iron pot, a stainless steel pot or your dutch oven.
  • Always rinse the pot before adding the milk. Don’t wipe after the rinse, you will notice that the milk or rice will never stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Rice Quality :- Use good quality basmati rice which is not very new, old basmati rice has a nicer aroma and the starches are robust. You can use brown rice as well, make sure to choose brown basmati rice. Even fragrant short grain like jasmine also work great in this recipe.
  • Milk Quality:- Use full fat milk. This is how traditionally kheer is made. There is no khoya or evaporated milk or condensed milk needed, if you use whole milk, it will reduce during slow cooking and as the rice cooks in it, the thick consistency will be achieved.
  • Sweetener :- Use sugar, jaggery or even condensed milk, coconut sugar or honey, however you would like to sweeten it. There is no hard or fast rule here but keep in mind that the taste of the kheer will be different depending on the sweetener. Traditionally sugar is used, but my husband likes the taste of jaggery so I use that. See point 9.
  • Always soak the rice before cooking. This ensures even cooking of rice.
  • We like creamy, thick kheer so the cooking times indicated in the recipe are as per that. Cook a little less longer if you like a runny kheer. As i said before, this recipe can be used as per your preference.
  • How long it can be kept? :- Rice kheer keeps good for 2-3 days in the fridge. You can reheat on a stove before serving.
  • Thickness of Kheer :- The more you stir and cook down or reduce the kheer, the thicker it gets. After the kheer has cooked, once you add sugar or jaggery or condensed milk, you will notice that the kheer will become thin consistency again.The remedy for this is to return the kheer to the stove and again cook for about 10 minutes or so after adding the sugar and condensed milk. However, cooking again is not possible if you are using jaggery. So, make sure that the kheer is cooked to a rich thicker consistency to start with so that way it won’t be too runny after mixing with jaggery. 
  • Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar instead of jaggery. If using condensed milk, add 1/2 to 3/4th of a 400g tin. 

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