I’ve eaten a lot of this in my time. We always called it sweet rice but it is commonly known as kheer or payasa(m) or ksira, in Sanskrit. It can be made with or without rice or with vermicelli noodles. Kheer without rice was often served as a cold dish at breakfast at the temple. We had it, made with rice, at big festivals where there was so much food you could barely move afterwards. The sweet rice was one of many desserts, usually served in a plastic cup, so that you could drink it, rather than eating with a spoon as you would rice pudding. It was generally cold but often warm. (Maybe you know the story of Ksira-Chora Gopinatha and Madhavendra Puri, who burnt his fingers on the sweet rice.)
You can make this thinner or thicker (use less rice for a thinner version – see recipe below), with or without rice and you can serve it hot or cold. I’ll leave it up to you. Either way, it’s delicious. It should be made with camphor but I don’t know where to buy it or what to do with it. I’ll ask my mum and get back to you… It can also be flavoured with rose essence, saffron, orange blossom water and pistachios. For me, it’s the cardamom that makes it and brings back a wave of nostalgia. This recipe serves 2-4, depending on how greedy you are. I tend to serve it with halava and maybe gulab jamuns too.
I haven’t tested a vegan recipe but it can made with plant based milks – have a look at the recipe from Sanjana Feasts if you’d prefer yours dairy free.
25 – 50g white rice, depending on thickness desired
1/2 tablespoon ghee or butter
1 bay leaf
500ml milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom or 3 cardamom pods
30g raisins (optional)
- Wash the rice and leave to drain while you warm the ghee/butter over a medium heat. Toast the rice in the ghee/butter and add the milk and the bay leaf. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.
- Add the sugar, raisins and cardamom and leave to simmer over a low heat. It will gradually reduce and become thicker. Stir it regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick. It took me an hour and quarter to get it to the thickness I wanted but 45 minutes should get you a thinner texture, if that’s what you want. It may take longer to reduce if you make it without rice.