Cultural background

Kheer or Firni is a pudding made by boiling milk and sugar with one of the following: rice, broken wheat, tapioca, vermicelli, or sweet corn. It is flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds or other dry fruits and nuts. It is typically served during a meal or as a dessert. It also has many varieties which are not as thick as Kheer, they are known as meetha bhaat, payasam, payasa, dudhpak, etc. It is typically served during a meal or after as dessert.

The first mention of kheer, which historians say was derived from the Sanksrit word kshirika (meaning a dish prepared with milk), is found in the fourteenth century Padmavat of Gujarat, not as a rice pudding but a sweet preparation of jowar and milk. Rice was known to the Romans, and possibly introduced to Europe as a food crop, dating as early as the 8th or 10th Century AD, and so the recipe for the popular English rice pudding is believed by some to be descended from kheer. We have tried out this recipe with our friend Rohan.

Culinary information

Ingredients for 4 people.

  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 120 gr. uncooked rice
  • 70 gr. sugar
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • Crushed nuts to garnish (pistachio, cashews, blanched almonds)

Preparation (over three hours)

  • Over cook the rice in boiling water for 10-12 minutes, until they get really soft and mushy.
  • Strain the rice and with the back of a fork, mash it well until it resembles oatmeal.
  • Heat up milk in a stainless-steel deep saucepan and let it come to a gentle simmer.
  • Open the cardamom pods and add it to the milk. (Once Kheer is done, you can simply take out the husk)
  • Add the rice and sugar. The rice will be clumpy but as it cooks, it will break down.
  • On very low heat, cook the Kheer for 3 hours.
  • Make sure you stir every once in a while, and use a stainless steel pot (if you use a non-stick saucepan, the brown bits will peel off as you stir and distribute throughout the Kheer).
  • After 3 hours of slow cooking, the Kheer will have thickened. It should fall in little clumps from the spatula.
  • Immediately pour in terracotta bowls and garnish with crushed nuts. There will be skin on the surface.
  • Let Kheer cool in serving dish for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Other aspects

  • Wash your hands carefully. 
  • Be careful with hot  pans
  • You can keep this in the fridge covered for up to 3 days.