Chawal ki Kheer, or Indian Rice Pudding

I go through phases when I feel I must have a small dessert after dinner and the small pots of rice pudding – riz au lait in French – that we buy in the supermarkets do satisfy the craving.  Despite the vanilla flavoring,  they serve as a reasonable substitute for home made chawal ki kheer.

So I haven’t made this kheer in a long while.  Then, this last weekend, we had friends for lunch on Sunday and as I planned the meal the previous day I asked Shri what might make a nice dessert given the weather, since it was forecast to be a cold, rainy day.  He very firmly insisted I make chawal ki kheer, since he loves it too.

I am glad I went along with his idea especially because all the children, including eighteen month old Vihaan, seemed to enjoy it.  As did I, for this is the real Mccoy.

As did Shri, I was pleased to see.  He is usually very cautious about his intake of sugar but this time  he asked for a small bowl of kheer each evening after dinner till it was all gone by tonight.

Chawal ki Kheer

50 gms of Basmati rice

1 kilo of full cream milk

sugar to taste (3-4 large spoons – such as a serving spoon – and then more to taste)

freshly powdered green cardamom, 1/2 a teaspoon

a handful of raisins (about 1/3 of a katora/small bowl), soaked in a cup of hot water for about 15 minutes

15-20 almonds, soaked in hot water for at least an hour, then peeled and sliced in to quarters

Wash and soak the rice in 1-2 cups of cold water for about 30 minutes.Then drain all the water out.

In a large, thick-bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil on medium heat.  Add the rice and stir.  Continue to simmer the milk and rice mixture on a medium-low heat, stirring often – scrape gently at the bottom each time to make sure that the milk does not stick to the bottom; that will spoil the taste completely as the milk will acquire a burnt smell and flavor – till the rice is very well-cooked (the grains will break up a bit and no longer be long as they originally were) and the milk has thickened a little. At this point, the milk acquires the signature, like-old-cream color of all milk-based desserts which involve cooking for a long time.

Sometimes I find that the milk starts to become too thick before the rice is as soft as I like it, so then I add a little more milk.

Add the sugar, the raisins and the almonds and cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the cardamom powder, then take the kheer off the heat.

It’s delicious eaten warm in the winter, it’s delicious eaten cold  in the summer !

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