I always crave something sweet. Most of the time I try not to go out of my way to have it. Recently I came across a lot of recipes of sweets for festivals and thought, why not make one just because. The goal was to make something sweet and creamy using ingredients that are always right there, in the fridge or on the shelves. I’ve been totally working out lately, so I can absolutely justify diving into these pleasure pools once a while. Except that it really ins’t once a while.
Anywho there’s always milk and paneer lying around in my fridge waiting, wanting and begging to make it into something more exotic than chaai or paneer paranthas. And today I gave them a chance. They did amuse me.
I usually only have to cook for myself and the husband. Needless to say, the quantity of ingredients are only enough to serve two. Surprisingly right after I finished making the kheer, the husband called in to inform that one of his friends would be visiting. And I thought to myself, ‘Hey, share your share! What better way to earn goodwill aaannd put on less amount of fat around your already fattened tummy’.
What I gathered:
200 ml skimmed milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 cardamom pod (elaichi)
2-3 almonds (slivered)
3-5 cashews (roughly chopped)
3-5 pistachios (slivered)
25 gms cottage cheese (paneer)
3-5 saffron strands (kesar) or saffron syrup
A tiny pinch of salt
How I put it together:
About 200 ml milk is enough to serve 2 people, considering one eats it as a sweet dish. I always use skimmed milk. Saves me malai with ghee yielding potential. Plus the low fat version is healthier. Although traditionally full cream milk makes a richer, creamier kheer.
In a thick bottomed vessel, I put milk and set the stove on low flame. A thick bottomed vessel is preferred because otherwise the milk sticks to the sides and bottom and burns. And trust me. Its not easy to wash it later.
After it came to a boil, I let it simmer until it got reduced to less than half its size. Its important to keep stirring and scraping the milk solids stuck to the sides of the pan and adding them back to the boiling milk.
Added 1tbsp sugar to this. I tend to use less sugar as too much of sweetness might suppress the flavours of other ingredients. More sugar can be added according to the likes.
Smashed open the cardamom pod and discarded the outer shell.
Later I ground the cardamom seeds in a mortar with, obviously, a pestle, until I had a fine powder.
Immediately gathered the nuts and sliced and chopped them according to requirements. I must confess, I popped a few into my mouth. It’s really hard to resist.
The paneer was weighed and crumbled with the help of a fork. There’s actually no need to weigh it. I do just because I’ve had this scale for a long time and I keep looking for reasons to use it.
(Its better to do these things before setting the milk on the stove. That way full attention can be later given to scraping and stirring and saving the utensil.)
Meanwhile the milk had been reduced and thickened. To that I added the cardamom powder and the nuts. I saved a little bit of nuts for sprinkling on top of the kheer, before serving. Because it looks good and because I’m a bit of a show-off.
Now I added the crumbled paneer. Its quite possible that even after having evenly crumbled it, the paneer will still be lumpy. The kheer can be later beaten with a blender for an even texture. I let it be the way it was.
Notice how the sides or the vessel are totally ruined. I had a hell of a time cleaning that. Here’s a tip for the ones like me, who like to wash it themselves. Pre-soaking the vessel helps a lot.
Got it to a final boil and turned off the flame.
Aha! This was my favorite part. My mom had sent me this little packet of saffron from Mumbai after a lot of nagging from my side. And I had been dying to open it. I added about 4-5 strands. This needs to be done while the kheer is warm. I also added a little bit of saffron syrup I’d purchased from Mapro Panchgani on a recent trip. Its really a keeper. Do give it a try.
Saffron releases colour and gives the kheer a beautiful flavor and aroma. Once you add a strand into the hot kheer and closely look at it, you will be able to see a crimson and yellow aura around it (see pic below). That’s right, I’m crazy about saffron.
And finally, I concluded it with a little pinch of salt. Just a hint. But its very important to do this only after the kheer is thick enough and cooled down. Rushing the salt might spoil the milk. Although this step is completely optional, I like how a tiny grain of salt further sweetens the kheer a bit. My ma taught me this.
That’s it. All done. I poured it into a mug and gulped it down.
That’s not how we served it to the friend though. He got a bit of a royal treatment.
Ah sweetness! Right in time for the warm sip on a chilly evening in Pune.
What I say:
Have this warm or chilled. Gulp it down straight in or have it with pooris. Add chunks of strawberries or apples or pomegranate seeds.
It’s going to taste delicious.