Wednesday 6 January 2010

Chaval Kheer (Creamy Rice Pudding)

Kheer comes from the Sanskrit word 'Ksira' meaning condensed milk. It is thought to be the world's oldest form of rice pudding. In fact, it is thought that the British came up with their version of rice pudding during their conquest of the subcontinent! At any rate, I adore making this dessert. Although it does take a bit of time to condense the milk by hand, I find there's something very therapeutic about all that stirring :)

Every region of India has their own take on kheer and so there are countless varieties of this heavenly Indian dessert. The basic ingredients are whole milk and sugar, then there is usually a grain. If it isn't rice, it might be whole wheat or vermicelli. Flavouring ingredients can include spices such as cardamom and saffron and it is often adorned with sultanas, nuts and sometimes even a little edible silver - who would have thought it would be possible to eat bling!

For me though, I have always thought that kheer is a very personal experience. Recipes and preferences really do differ from household to household. So, I'd like to share my recipe with you. It's very simple, but hard to resist...


2L fresh whole milk
Slightly less than 1/2 cup aborio rice
5 green cardamom pods
1/4 cup sultanas
3/4 - 1 cup white sugar, depending on your preferred level of sweetness.
2 tbsp pistachios, shelled and unsalted


1. Wash and drain the rice in a sieve. Set aside.
2. Tap the cardamom pods open slightly.
3. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan and add the cardamom pods. Stirring constantly, bring the milk to the boil over moderately high heat.

4. Reduce the heat, add the rice and stirring attentively, gently boil for 25 to 30 mins.
5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for another 10 to 15 mins stirring constantly with a smooth, sweeping action.
6. Remove from heat and remove and discard cardamom pods. Stir in sugar, followed by sultanas. The sultanas will plump up as they absorb the milk.
7. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate for several hours.
8. Top with shaved or chopped pistachios and serve.

  • Kheer can be served cold or warm, the choice is yours!
  • Kheer should be of a just drinkable consistency. If it is to thick, you can always add more milk later to thin it.
  • If you're thinking.. "Arborio rice is not very Indian" - you're absolutely right, it's not! But it makes for a very creamy result ;)
  • I find that organic milk makes excellent kheer, but do buy the homogenised stuff.
  • Don't worry about the skin that forms on the top while you are reducing the milk, you can skim it off once the kheer cools.
Namaste, dear readers!

Ladybird x


  1. I am loving this dish! I think rice pudding is so boring plain - what a wonderful idea to add cardamom and sultanas

  2. I have not seen anything looks so delicious and healthy. Love the cardamom and sultanas. I love the natural sweetness of sultanas. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I always love this dessert. The cardamom pods add so much flavor in it!


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