When it comes to dessert, most of us want it hot, and of course, sweet, so that it can warm both, our bellies and also heart. But it happens to the best of us - despite craving something sweet, the very thought of turning on the oven may feel like a struggle. When that happens, easy no-bake desserts could be life-savers. After all, sometimes, the best after-dinner indulgences are the ones you’ve made in a jiffy, using minimal ingredients. Yes, we’re talking about the humble kheer or as our western counterparts would like to call it – the ever so versatile, rice pudding. Unlike the classic ones found on almost every restaurant menus – mava pudding or bread pudding, kheer has none of the pitted egginess of most baked puddings, and best, doesn’t slump in a treat like a bitingly sweet cafeteria comeback either. Instead, what you get is meltingly soft individually flavoured grains swimming in a chilled or warm (as you like it) custard base, topped with the goodness of nuts and fruits - light, impossibly rich, and just oh-so irresistible.
* One-litre milk, plus an extra 100ml, in case the kheer gets too thick
*Two pods of green cinnamon (crushed to a coarse powder)
*Half a cup uncooked rice of your choice (soaked for 20 mins)
*Three tablespoons of castor sugar
*For garnish, about one cup of chopped nuts
The kheer recipe comes together in a short series of steps: Once the milk boils over, add the soaked rice, sugar, cardamom powder and continue cooking till it reaches a thick porridge or custard-like consistency. The rice cooks best when the pan is covered, but the milk has a powerful urge to boil and spill over. Best solution: Don’t leave the side of your pan and watch it like a hawk. Set the pan over medium-high, and bring the liquid to a simmer, stirring once or twice. Reduce the heat to low and let cook again, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed some of the milk. Remove the saucepan from the heat, sprinkle the chopped nuts and fruits over the rice. Serve warm or if you like, transfer the kheer into wine glasses or serving dishes before refrigerating.
If you’re a beginner, click here for the rookie’s guide to making the kheer recipe.
It’s true that kheer has evolved over the years, from the simple preparation of milk, rice and sugar to a complex preparation with several ingredients and elements. Yet there’s something about this dessert that never makes it lose its charm and the taste of the old-world style. However, if you are up for some experimentation in the kitchen, here are some must-try kheer variations by LF chefs to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings:
Mango and Wheat Kheer Recipe
This rather unusual combination of mango and wheat come together to create something that’s finger-lickin' good. If you’ve got some mangoes lying around, simply use their sweet and tangy flavour to liven up a warm bowl of kheer. Serve chilled, to beat the heat. Follow the simple instructions in this Hindi recipe video to make this kheer recipe at home.
Bursting with the natural sweetness of sugarcane, this yummy kheer could be your ticket to some guilt-free indulgence. This variation of the kheer is local to North-Western and Central parts of India, where sugarcane is found in abundance. Follow this step-by-step recipe to recreate this classic kheer recipe in your own kitchen. this Hindi recipe video to help you make a warm bowl of kheer with everyday ingredients.
Apart from the flavor, this variation recipe is also bursting with all things health. Made using date palm jaggery, which is called Nolen/notun gur in Bengal, this type of jaggery is available only during winter. In case you’re lucky enough to get your hands on this jaggery, you could give this recipe a try. Follow the simple instructions in the Hindi recipe video to make this kheer.
Local to Uttarakhand, this kheer is made using Jhangora (Barnyard Millet), a form of rice commonly found in the Himalayan region. Enhanced with the flavour of kewra essence, this makes for a very homely dessert, which can also be enjoyed when fasting. Click here for the full kheer recipe.
Drool-worthy kheer platters that are totally Instagrammable
A Class in History
Today, kheer has gone on to become a time-honoured dish with a touch of spiritual significance as it is generally served as prasadam, which is part of Hindu religious rituals. But, as it turns out, the origin of this ethereal dessert remains widely unknown and debatable. Popular opinion, however, does fall in favour of the Indian sub-continent. This creamy pudding finds a mention in a lot of ancient books of Ayurveda. Besides, it’s also said that the first mention of kheer, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ksheera’ (a dish prepared with milk), was found in the fourteenth-century Padmavat of Gugarat. Surprisingly, it wasn’t described as a rice pudding and instead of a sweet preparation of jowar and milk. Back then millets were in fashion. That’s not all, since kheer is also sometimes referred to as ‘sheer’ (try this sheer khurma recipe, and you won’t regret), which translates to milk in Persian, another school of thought believes that this dish might’ve probably originated in Persia, where they have a similar dessert known as sheer birinj, which is nothing but rice pudding. Whatever be the origin, the real popularity of kheer is often accounted to its religious association, especially in India. As it is known, rice always held a place of importance in all religious functions during the Chola dynasty, thanks to its life-sustaining qualities. And not forgetting the shwet (white) colour, a symbol of purity and divinity. And then on kheer went on to become an introductory religious offering.
Kheer Across IndiaWhatever the origin of kheer, that didn’t stop India from having its very own variations in the different states of the country. The Payasam (click here, for a sugar-free version) from the southern state of Kerala is thicker and richer than your average kheer. In Tamil Nadu it is called Payasam (made using tender coconut and strawberry, this payasam recipe is a must try) itself, while in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh it is known as Payasa. Surprisingly, the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh has its very own take on kheer called ‘Gil-e-Firdaus’ – which is again thicker than an average kheer, and made with milk and bottle gourd. In the South, apart from the common kheer preparation (made with milk and sugar) they also make their puddings with coastal finds such as jaggery and coconut milk.
In the North, it is known as kheer itself, but again, there are many versions of the North Indian kheer. In Varanasi, this yummy dessert is made using milk, rice, ghee, sugar, cardamom, kesar (saffron) and dried fruits, and is a part of many Hindu feasts and celebrations. Often made with rice, it is also made with vermicelli. Then comes Firni or Phirni (click here for a lip-smacking firni recipe), introduced by the Persians, who were the ones to introduce the use of rose water and dry fruits in this sweet treat. The Bengalis call is Payas or Payesh. In Assam, the easternmost part of India, kheer is known as Payoxh and has a light pink in colour courtesy of cherries. When it’s not rice, they also use sago (an edible starch extracted from a palm). In Odisha it is known as Khiri, and is often associated with the famous Jagannath temple of Puri. In Bihar, it is Chawal ki Kheer, and is made with rice, full-fat cream, milk, sugar, cardamom powder, saffron and an occasional addition of dried fruits. Another brown version of this kheer is called Rasiya, and is made using jaggery.
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