Indians around the world are sure to be in a festive holiday mood this week with all the Diwali preps and celebrations. As with any Indian festival, the most important thing is of course, the food, especially the sweet treats. We gorge on sweets redolent with milk, ghee and sugar and spend the coming weeks swearing never to do it again!
So, in lieu of that, I have a dessert recipe which is both sweet and somewhat good for you. Of course, it has milk, sugar and a touch of ghee in it. A good Indian dessert is nothing without it! But it also has poha and sabudana.
Poha is flattened rice or rice flakes. This is a very common ingredient in Indian cooking and you can use it as you would a grain or cereal. It is great eaten as breakfast or snack. You can roast it lightly with spices, mash it with bananas (kind of like oatmeal) or cook it in a kheer like I did here.
I also used a little bit of these white pearly things called sabudana or tapioca pearls. They are quite starchy and add a lovely texture to the kheer.
The recipe is pretty straight-forward and one may proceed like any kheer or payasam recipe. I used milk and brown sugar here. I really wanted to do the grating-jaggery-and-melting-to-a-syrup thing, but I was really running short on time. So I just used some nice dark brown sugar. You can use white sugar too, but then the kheer would be more whitish in color. And I really think the deeper flavor of the jaggery or brown sugar goes well with the poha.
But, you can just do your thing. For a vegan version, feel free to use almond milk or coconut milk. I will definitely be making this again with coconut milk and jaggery. My all-time favorite combo!
The great thing about kheer is that it is good for the next few days as well. It is somewhat lighter than the heavier milk pedas, ladoos and halwas. And once it is cooked, you don’t have to worry about it losing it’s texture or going stale. Just shove the leftovers in the refrigerator and enjoy it later. Chilled kheer is absolutely delicious, don’t you think?!
POHA-SABUDANA KHEER (AVAL-JAWWARISI PAYASAM)
You will need:
- Poha or flattened rice – 1/2 cup (I used the thick brown rice variety)
- Sabudana or tapioca pearls – 1/4 cup
- Water – 1 cup
- Milk – 3 cups
- Cardamom powder – a fat pinch
- Brown sugar – 1/2 – 3/4 cup (as per taste)
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Golden raisins – a small handful
- Almonds or cashew nuts – a small handful
- Wash the sabudana in water a couple of times. Soak in water for 15 minutes. Wash the poha too in water a couple of times till the water runs clear. The poha should be softened by the repeated washing. If not, soak for a couple of minutes in water and drain.
- In a large, deep pan, heat the milk on medum heat till it boils. Simultaneously, in a small pan, heat water and start cooking the sabudana.
- Stir the milk every now and then and reduce it till it is slightly thickened, around 10 minutes. By this time, the sabudana should be mostly cooked. Add the sabudana and the starchy cooking liquid to the milk and cook for a further 5-6 minutes.
- Then add the poha and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally, add cardamom powder and sugar and mix well. Simmer till thickened to your liking. But remember kheer thickens upon standing, so remove it from the heat just short of the consistency you are looking for.
- Fry some golden raisins in a tablespoon of ghee. Add the raisins and leftover ghee to the kheer and mix well.
- Serve poha-sabudana kheer warm or chilled and garnished with chopped nuts.
- I always use whole milk for making kheer, it really makes the whole thickening and reducing process easier. But you could use skim milk too, if that’s what you prefer.
- Use coconut or almond milk instead of regular milk for a vegan version.
- Try grated jaggery instead of sugar. It’s totally worth it. Jaggery is unrefined sugar. It has a unique earthy flavor and is available as cubes in most Indian grocery stores.
- Always add the sweetener towards the end, after the milk is reduced and the kheer ingredients are cooked properly.
Serve kheer warm or chilled topped with crushed nuts like almonds, pistachios or cashew nuts. Enjoy some guilt-free yet delicious sweet kheer this Diwali!
I hope you guys have a lovely and fantastic festive season. Happy Diwali! Enjoy, feast and stay safe!!
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
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- By Stephanie Lynn