Kheer / Payasam – Rice & Milk Based Pudding of India

Kheer

Kheer, the creamy, milky and the most delicious rice pudding prepared all over in India. It is believed to be in existence for more than 2000 years. The pudding is prepared by boiling rice with milk and sugar, flavored with cardamom and saffron. With time came in different variations and with some small changes came in various recipes. Traditionally it was made with rice but today it is also prepared with other ingredients like vermicelli (seviyan / sevai), which are actually very thin noodles. Because of these variations in the ingredients, the dish got different names in India. Like in Southern India, it is known as Payasam and is made in coconut milk. There are many versions of this dessert dish in both the south as well as North of India. In fact, the recipe for the popular English rice pudding was originally adapted from kheer when Britain had occupied India.

Kheer / Payasam is an essential dish in many Hindu and Muslim feasts and celebrations. Payasam is served as an offering to the gods in South Indian Hindu temples during rituals and ceremonies. The Southern Indian state of Kerala, people have a particular affinity towards this dish.

Most of the kheers are milk based but for some of the south Indian payasam recipes, milk is replaced with coconut milk. Jaggery is another important ingredient in Kheer and payasum, some use sugar instead but the main distinction of an authentic kheer or payasam is the use of jaggery. Kheer or payasam generally has a consistency of porridge. A commonly used flavor for kheer is cardamom but, you can keep it plain or make it as rich as you like with the addition of ghee(clarified butter) and nuts like pistachio, almonds, essences of rose, almond or vanilla etc.

Rice Kheer Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 litres full-cream milk
  • 1 can (400 gms) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 50 gms almonds blanched and slivered
  • 50 gms raisins
  • A few strands of saffron
  • Rose petals to garnish (optional)

Method:

  • Wash the rice well and soak for half an hour in enough water to cover it fully.
  • Put the milk, condensed milk and sugar in a deep, thick-bottomed pan and boil. When the milk comes to a boil, add the rice and simmer. Cook till the milk thickens and reduces to half its original volume.
  • Add the almonds, raisins and cardamom and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Turn off the fire and add the saffron. Stir well.
  • Allow the kheer to cool, then chill.
  • Serve cold garnished with rose petals.

Wheat Payasam Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Broken Wheat (250g)
  • Coconut (2 nos.)
  • Jaggery (500g)
  • Raisins (10g)
  • Cashew Nuts (10g)
  • Ghee (3tbs)
  • Cardamom (5g)
  • Dry ginger powder (10g)
  • Cumin Powder (10g)

Method:

  • Grate the coconut. Add 1/2 glass warm water to the grated coconut. Extract the first milk. Extract the second milk by adding 1 1/2 glass warm water. Again repeat the process to extract the third milk.
  • Fry the broken wheat lightly in one teaspoon ghee. Cook the wheat well in 1 1/2 liters of water.
  • When it is done add the third milk and the second milk to the wheat and bring to a boil. When it thickens to a semi solid consistency, add powdered jaggery. Add the first milk, fried nut, raisins, powdered cardamom, ginger and cumin. Mix well and remove from fire immediately. Serve hot.

Vermicelli Kheer Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Almonds
  • 1cup Seviya (Vermicelli) broken into 4 cm bits
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup almonds (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted blanched pistachio, silvered
  • 1/2 tbsp rose water
  • Silver or gold papper (varak)

Method:

  • Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed non-stick pan over medium heat and add vermicelli and fry till golden brown, stirring constantly.
  • Pour the milk, sugar, almonds, pistachio and stirring constantly bring to boil.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes or until the milk is slightly thickened.
  • Cool to room temperature, add rose water and chill thoroughly.
  • Stir well and serve the vermicelli pudding in individual bowls with a piece of silver or gold paper (varak).

Rice Kheer Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup short/medium grained rice
  • 4 cups whole milk (go for low fat only if absolutely necessary)
  • sugar to taste – I used 3 tbsp ( 1/4- 1/2 cup should be enough )
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1-2 tbsp nuts ( I used almonds, pistachios and cashews)
  • 4-5 raisins (or more if you like it)
  • 1 tsp Ghee (preferred more than butter)

Method :

  • In a saucepan, heat the ghee. Add the chopped nuts along with raisins. Set aside when raisins get plump and nuts turn reddish brown.
  • In the same pan, roast the rice for 2-3 minutes in low heat.
  • Now add the milk. Increase the heat to med-high and let it come to a boil
  • Give it an occasional stir so that the milk does not stick to the bottom. Non stick pan works great for this. Also take care not to let the milk burn. Even a little burn spoils the milk. Add sugar and give it a stir.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the milk has reduced in half. Keep stirring often. You know its done when the milk has reduced and also the rice has cooked and is soft (not mushy). This process takes approximately 20-30minutes.
  • Add rest of the ingredients – saffron, cardamom and half of the roasted nuts.
  • Give it a stir until combined and serve garnished with the remaining nuts.
  • You can serve it hot or cold.
  • The pudding thickens with time – you can rectify it by adding more warm milk to it.

Khree in Coconut Milk Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts

Method :

  • Bring the coconut milk, milk and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Add basmati rice, and simmer over low heat until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the raisins, cardamom and rose water, and cook for a few more minutes. Ladle into serving bowls, and garnish with almonds and pistachios.