Indian food isn't really something we cook at home.  I hope to change this in the coming year once my friend Lipika starts teaching me how she cooks some of her favorite Bengali dishes.  But in the meantime, we go out to get our Indian food fix.

When Wyatt and I occasionally meet Byron for lunch we like to go to The Clay Pit.  It's a bustling place, no doubt because their lunch buffet is quite good, fresh, and offers mostly vegetable dishes, which is what I'm the craziest about.  My only complaint is that my favorite Indian dessert, kheer -- the chilled, thin Indian rice pudding made with cardamom -- is not on the buffet.  In its place, they offer a mediocre mango pudding. 

In any case, last weekend I tried making it myself, kheer that is, with great results. I came up with a recipe by blending several that I found online and using the ingredients I had on hand.  I must say that eaten cold with a pinch of toasted almonds and pistachios, it is rather divine. 

Kheer with brown rice
makes about 12-15 servings

6 c nonfat milk
4 c whole milk
2 c cream
1 c brown basmati rice, washed and dried
8-10 Tb granulated sugar
6 Tb raisins
1/2 c sliced almonds, lightly toasted (plus more for garnish)
1/4 c chopped unsalted pistachios (plus more for garnish)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom, or to taste (many recipes called for pods and ground seeds, which would be ideal if you have them)
pinch of saffron, softened in 1 Tb. of hot milk

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat.  When it is simmering, add the rice and then bring it to a boil, stirring quite frequently.  Once it hits a rolling boil, immediately reduce the heat and keep the rice and milk mixture at a low boil/simmer.  Add the cardamom and saffron.  Cook it like this for about an hour, maybe a tad longer.

Once the milk is reduce by about half and the rice is cooked, add the sugar, raisins, almonds, and pistachios.  Simmer, stirring often, for another five minutes to dissolve the sugar and soften the raisins.  Remove from the heat.  Cool and serve at room temperature or chilled.  Top with more chopped nuts and raisins if you like.  Traditional toppings include cashews, almonds, pistachios, raisins, and even rose petals.

Note: The next time I make it, I will make it a little less rich by replacing the cream with more nonfat milk; I will increase the cardamom or try to make it using pods and ground seeds; and I will use yellow raisins instead of brown ones, just for looks.


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