Monday, May 27, 2013

Kheer-of traditions and family

Dear Readers,

My brother moved into his new home this weekend. I had planned to visit him on Sunday to drop off the goodies I got him from India, his favourites, sweets and snacks all packed with love by mum. Anyways moving houses just got me thinking of the little rituals and traditions surrounding starting life in a new home. I had done my final year thesis on the qualities of home, place making and the rituals that make home "home". Having grown up in India, and having seen the values and traditions across different cultural groups and communities was deliciously fascinating  

In Hinduism the first act of cooking in the kitchen is that of boiling milk mixed with sugar and saffron and letting it overflow. This symbolizes the overflowing and abundance of prosperity, wealth and happiness in the new home. The left over milk is then distributed amongst the family members to divide this abundance equally among them all. The other thing we have always done is that a sweet/dessert is the first dish cooked in the kitchen. Now I know my brother wasn't going to think about it or even realise it but these little traditions are a part of our little world and also fun. Its funny I have never really paid much importance to rituals, absolutely have no regard for superstitions and am agnostic in my beliefs. But family traditions and rituals that are inclusive of everyone in the family spread cheer and happiness. As humans we all need these little celebrations to look forward to. And nothing wrong with eating yummy desserts now is there ?! Also I am always looking for reasons to make kheer so I was only too happy to get into it. 

Kheer or Pal Payasam (name used in South India) is an Indian rice pudding made with milk,rice,sugar and flavoured with saffron,cardamom and nuts. It can be enjoyed both hot and cold and is a delicious dessert. My mom makes it the traditional way- by reducing the milk for a few hours and letting it thicken - very delicious but a little time consuming. It is definitely worth the time when you taste it, but for now I am going to show you my cheats way of making a delicious and quick kheer, hope you like it. Also tell me readers, what are your moving into a new home rituals?


Recipe                                                                                              Print Recipe

Serves 10
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time 1 hour


1 cup Basmati rice
2 litres whole milk or 1l whole milk and 1l Skim milk
400 g condensed milk
3-4 tbsp Sugar (to taste)
10-12 green cardamoms - ground into a fine powder
15 blanched almonds - chopped or flaked
10 strands of saffron


Wash the rice till the water you wash in is completely clear. Put the rice in a bowl and soak it in water for 15 minutes. 

In a deep pot add the milk and put it on heat. Once it starts to boil add the drained rice and let it cook on a low to medium flame for 15 minutes. Keep stirring as we do not want the rice or the milk to burn. 

Once the rice is cooked add the condensed milk, cardamom powder, sugar (to taste) and saffron and give it a good mix and let it cook on a medium flame for another 15 minutes, stir often so that the rice doesn't stick. 

Kheer should have reduced and should be of a slightly thin porridge like consistency. Garnish with chopped almonds and pistachios (optional) Enjoy straight out of the pot - steaming hot or chilled for a beautiful creamy dessert!

If you are in a real hurry to make it, I suggest putting all the ingredients in a pressure cooker and cooking for 15 minutes or use pre cooked rice and add it to the milk and condensed milk mixture and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Use fresh green cardamoms and grind them to a fine powder, the fragrance and flavour will be phenomenal. Avoid pre packaged super market cardamom powder.


  1. Very traditional and delicious kheer. Beautiful click, Srishti..

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