Kheer is a popular form of Rice Pudding from the northern Indian cuisine. It is typically made by boiling rice with milk and sugar, and is enhanced by cardamom or saffron, and dried fruits and nuts like cashews, almonds, pistachios and raisins. There are many variations and names of this sweet dish all over India. It can also be made with broken wheat, tapioca or vermicelli. Kheer is typically served as a dessert and is often made as an offering to the Gods during prayer ceremonies or festive occasions.
Rice puddings are found in nearly every area of the world. There are variations in recipes based on cooking methods and list of ingredients, but rice (or a similar starch) and milk seem to be the common ones in most. According to Wikipedia, there are close to 60 different variations of Rice Puddings around the world.
Arroz Con Leche: Another popular rice pudding is the Spanish/Latin American dessert called Arroz Con Leche, which literally translates to ‘rice with milk’. My daughters had to make traditional Latin American cuisine for their Spanish class at school. One of them opted to make Arroz Con Leche. She came home with a recipe, and that’s when I realized, how similar it is to Kheer. My daughter’s rice pudding got rave reviews at school and we added another great recipe to our family favorites! If you want to try it, I’ve added that recipe too!
Dairy-Free & Nut-Free Alternative: This recipe can be made dairy-free by substituting milk with unsweetened, regular Almond milk, or full-fat coconut milk. I’ve tried using low-fat coconut milk, but it just doesn’t taste creamy and smooth like it should. I have observed that whenever I make kheer with almond milk, I do end up adding 1-2 tablespoons of extra sugar. If you want to make it nut-free, use regular milk, and skip the nuts in the recipe.
Coming back to Kheer recipe. I like to flavor mine with freshly ground cardamom. If you don’t like the black specs in it, you can use the store bought version, which is much lighter. Also, you can use raisins, coconut and even saffron to enhance your rice pudding. So, if your version is different than mine, simply use this recipe as a guideline and do your magic.
Till I bought my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, I used to make Kheer on the stove-top. It would take me around 30-40 minutes (depending on quantity), but I had to babysit the pot. I had to adjust temperature, keep stirring, make sure the milk doesn’t boil over. Definitely worth it, but why do that when you can have a hands-free option! Untill now, I believed that dairy has a tendency to curdle under high and fluctuating pressure, which is how many stove-top pressure cookers operate. But the Instant Pot is different. The Porridge mode allows you to cook at a consistent and even temperature- no changes in pressure till the cooking is done. So now, I can fill the pot with the ingredients, give it a stir, and set a timer on Porridge mode and forget about it! And it tastes amazing too- that’s a huge win for me.
My Mom’s Tip : In order to ensure that the milk doesn’t stick/burn at the bottom of the pan, start by adding 1/4 cup water and then add the milk. Don’t ask me how, but this trick works every single time.
My Tip : By turning the Saute mode on initially, the milks gets tempered, which means, it warms a bit before we close the lid for pressure cooking. This prevents the milk from curdling. Also, starting with a super clean pot also ensures that. So, wipe your inner pot clean to make sure nothing from the last meal is still sticking to it. Continue Reading…