Aloha everyone!!!!! Just got back from Hawaii. Sorry I couldn’t post anything last week; was too busy taking in the sights and sounds of the blue ocean. It was a welcome change from the perpetually hot nights in Phoenix. In another 3 weeks the kids will have fall break and it does not even feel like Fall !!!!!!
Anyway after the sweet smell of Leluha blossoms and Plumeria (Champa for the folks in India), I decided it was time for something sweet. So I am posting the recipe for Badam Kheer. Kheer is also called Payesh in east India and Payasam in south India. The basic recipe for all the three is the same. Basically you thicken whole milk and then cook rice in the milk. The final product is sweetened with either sugar or jaggery. I like to use some half and half along with whole milk. Cuts down the time needed to boil the milk and thick it to about half the usual time. Also I am posting the recipe for badam kheer or kheer with nuts. You can substitute the nuts with coconut for coconut kheer or just eat it plain specially if made with jaggery (Bengali payesh). One common mistake while cooking kheer is adding the sugar to the milk right at the beginning. This will make the milk all watery and it will take longer for it to boil and thicken. So the sweetening agent needs to go at the end. Here is the recipe for Badam kheer.
1 qt half and half
2 cups whole milk
½ cup rice (soaked in 1 cup of water for 1 hr)
½ cup sugar (or ½ cup date palm jaggery)
1 bay leaf
½ tsp cardamom powder
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 tsp pistachios (grated)
1 drop of kewra essence
Heat milk and half and half in a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Keep stirring the milk with a ladle and make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Put the bay leaf in the milk. When the milk has reduced to about 3/4 of its original volume (about 20 minutes), add the rice that was previously soaked in water. Drain the water before adding the rice. Keep stirring for an additional 10 minutes till the rice is almost done. To check if the rice is done, take a grain or two of rice on the ladle and press with your finger. If the rice mashes easily, then it is done. If you can feel some grainy residue, it needs to cook for five more minutes. Add the raisins, cashews and slivered almonds once the rice is cooked and the kheer is all done. Switch off the stove and add ½ cup sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. You can substitute the sugar for ½ cup date palm jaggery. Leave the lump of jaggery in the kheer for 15 minutes and it will dissolve in the heat. Stir to mix well once the jaggery dissolves. When the kheer has cooled in the pan, pour it into a serving bowl. Add the drop of kewra essence and decorate with grated pistachios on the top.
Note: Badam kheer made with sugar will be white in color. Adding jaggery instead of sugar will give it a tan color. Kewra is available in Indian groceries. Date palm jaggery is a special type of jaggery found in Bangladeshi stores. I have tried substituting date palm with other kinds of jaggery but it does not taste the same!!!!!