This Indian rice pudding is not your common rice pudding. Cardamom and saffron flavour this dish and is not meant to be stodgy. Commonly named chawal ki kheer, it is eaten across all of India. It is called payasam in south India and payesh in east India.
It’s a great dessert for anytime of the year.
The recipe presented here calls for the dish to be served chilled, but in winter months it can be served warm. It is rarely eaten hot.
In many Indian restaurants, this is dish is complicated with extra ingredients, including more nuts and dried fruit. Frequently it is made with condensed milk, which makes for a very rich dessert. I have also had it made with coconut milk.
All of which are fine, but most of these lose the simplicity of this recipe.
This is a recipe suitable for family occasions. It is quite easy to make, with the almost single caution of not allowing the milk to burn. Frequent stirring will help prevent this and will aid the release of starch from the rice.
This recipe calls for the use of jaggery, which gives the dish a warm golden colour. If you like your rice pudding white, substitute white sugar for the jaggery.
We always use basmati rice for this recipe, not short grain rice. Short grain rice will cook faster and break up sooner, so if you want to use it you will need to reduce the cooking time.
When cooking for just ourselves, we rarely go to the step of adding the rose petals, unless the next-door neighbour’s roses are in bloom.
- 25 g pistachios chopped
- 8 rose petals
Wash the rice in several changes of water to remove excess starch. Cover rice with cold water and soak for 30 minutes.
Put the milk in a deep, thick-bottomed pan and bring to a gentle boil. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and add the rice. Cook for around 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and the rice is well softened. Stir often to help rice release its starch and to stop the milk burning.
Whilst the milk and rice are simmering, remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind to a coarse powder.
When the rice has softened, add the jaggery, mix well and simmer for five minutes.
Add the almonds, cardamom and saffron. Mix well and simmer for five minutes.
Remove from the heat, allow the kheer to cool, then chill.
Serve cold garnished with pistachios and rose petals.
- The times above do not allow for chilling the kheer.
- This recipe assumes basmati rice is used. Short grain rice will require less cooking time.
- If you like your rice pudding white, substitute white sugar for the jaggery.