Deconstructed Dishes: Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)

2011-02-28T07:00:00Z 2012-11-01T15:33:25Z Deconstructed Dishes: Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)Written by Erik Jacobs
Recipe by Gabrielle DeMichele, Nate Bonner and Lucy Schnuck
Photography by Rob Grimm
Feast Magazine | Inspired Local Food Culture/Midwest

It has been said that you're likely to get more satisfaction from pudding when alive than words of praise when dead. Translation? We have only so much time on this rock to eat pudding. Don't waste it. So when you've eaten that last bit of vindaloo and your gullet is spewing fire, reach for that cooling rich bowl of rice pudding, called kheer. Exotic spices and luscious creaminess combine with a heavenly aroma and pleasing texture to make up the allure of this Indian rice pudding. Your clock is ticking. Enjoy this pudding while you can.

Gabrielle DeMichele, Nate Bonner and Lucy Schnuck work together to formulate original recipes, brainstorming the best ingredients, methods and techniques to employ when teaching classes at the Schnucks Cooks Cooking School in Des Peres.

Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)

Serves | 6 |

  • 7 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • 3 to 4 cardamom seeds, crushed
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 10 saffron threads
  • 2 Tbsp currants
  • 2 Tbsp pistachios, chopped
  • 2 tsp sultanas
  • fresh nutmeg for garnish
  • ¼ cup cream (optional)

| Preparation | Place milk, rice and cardamom in a saucepan over high heat and bring just to a boil, being careful to not allow the milk to boil over. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching, 45 minutes or more.

Add sugar to rice and stir until it is entirely dissolved. Add saffron threads, currants, pistachios and sultanas, and stir. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve warm or chilled with a little cream poured over the top and a few gratings of nutmeg.



Cardamom Seeds

Cardamom is a spice used sparingly in the West while being wildly popular in other parts of the world in both sweet and savory dishes. Harvested from the plant in pod form, the seeds inside give cardamom its spicy/sweet flavor. While there are other varieties of cardamom, green cardamom is the one most widely used. As with most spices, you will get a more robust flavor and aroma from grinding fresh cardamom seeds, but it is also available ground.

Saffron Threads

At upward of $1,000 per pound, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It is the dried stigma of a specific variety of crocus flower, and when used in cooking, it offers a striking yellow color with a grassy, metallic flavor. Depending on the variety, there may be between 70,000 and 200,000 strands per pound of saffron - each manually extracted from the plant. Ponder that the next time you kvetch about your job.


Currants (red, black or white) are the small berry fruit of a small shrub. Appealing for their sweetness, currants also possess a sour element that is often enjoyed as a counterpoint to balance sweet dishes. With a vibrant rubylike color when fresh, the red currant is most readily available here in its dried form, which is often confused with raisins.

Basmati Rice

One of the world's great grains, basmati rice is used extensively in India and Pakistan. Being a long-grain variety of rice, basmati tends to cook up fluffy with distinctly separate grains. Fresh basmati has a distinctive aroma that hints at fresh roasted nuts, and its flavor blends well with a wide range of cuisines.


Get hands-on and learn about Indian cuisine with chefs Nate and Lucy on Wed., March 23. Join us in the kitchen to make lamb vindaloo, a flavorful lamb stew with curry and other great spices, garlic naan, rice pudding and chai tea.


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