Contrary to what people think, food bloggers do not spend 24 hours slaving over a stove. Or do they? Am I missing out on something? I don’t think so. I think that depending on the situation, cooking can either be a chore or fun. It cannot be fun all the time, can it? But if you really love to cook, it can be comforting in a way.
I started cooking because that seemed the logical thing to do when I found myself taking care of a baby (and husband) all by myself. Slowly it became fun and then this blog happened. But some days, it does feel like a chore and the last thing I want is to be in the kitchen. My favorite times are the days when cooking is the most natural thing in the world and everything turns out the way I want them to in the least amount of time with the littlest possible mess! And then, there are the days when I cook simply to save my sanity. The methodical progression of events in the kitchen acts like a soothing balm when I am nervous or anxious.
When I stir a pot of milk and sugar, I know it is going to reduce and turn thick and creamy. It takes time, but it will get there. When I put together harmonious flavors, they blend together and create something delicious and satisfying. At this speck of time in the cosmos, I am in control. Nothing can take it away from me, which to me, is the beauty of cooking and creating.
I made this recipe on an especially troubling day. As I coaxed the milk, paneer, almonds and sugar into gentle submission on the stove, I was left with this comforting bowl of kheer. And for a short while, all was well with the world.
Kheer is an Indian stove-top pudding usually made with milk and grains, mostly rice. Kheer is also made with semiya (vermicelli), lentils or even fruit. To me, kheer signifies both celebration and comfort. Any good event calls for kheer at the end of the meal. Likewise, a nice bowl of warm kheer can cheer you up when you are feeling low.
This recipe has the goodness of paneer (Indian soft cottage cheese) and almonds in it. I added a good measure of grated paneer and powdered almonds to milk reduced on the stove. This is then subtly flavored with cardamom and rose for fragrant, delicious kheer. Both the paneer and almonds make this kheer exceptionally rich and nutritious.
- Milk - 4 cups
- Almonds - 15-20, plus extra for garnish
- Cardamom powder - ½ tsp
- Paneer - 1 cup, grated or crumbled and loosely packed
- Sugar - 6 tbsp (adjust as per taste)
- Rose water - ½ tsp
- Dried rose petals - for garnish
- Saffron strands - for garnish, optional
- Heat milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer the milk till it reduces a bit and becomes thick. Stir the milk intermittently while simmering. This will take 10-15 minutes.
- While milk is simmering, lightly toast the almonds on a skillet till just warmed. Cool slightly and grind in a coffee or spice grinder. Set this almond powder aside. (Make sure not to let the machine run continuously, else the almonds will start to release their oils and turn pasty.)
- To the reduced milk, add cardamom powder, paneer, almond powder and sugar. Stir and cook for 8-10 minutes or till kheer is thickened to your liking. Taste and adjust sugar as well.
- Remove from heat. Garnish with slivered almonds and dried rose petals and saffron (if using). Kheer can be served hot, warm or chilled, we personally like the chilled version best.
2. Store-bought paneer can be hard due to refrigeration. You can submerge the paneer in warm water for 10 minutes before grating. Freshly made paneer can be easily crumbled with your fingers.
Make this kheer for yourself and your loved ones. It is delicious and comforting, just how kheer is supposed to be.
This kheer was a great hit at our place. The resident paneer fiend (the little guy) has already started asking me when I am going to make it again!
Have you tried paneer kheer? What is your favorite kind of kheer? I would love to know. Do share.
Here are more kheer and pudding recipes.
- Apple Paneer Kheer: Here is another version of paneer kheer I made earlier. This recipe has apples in it as well.
- Poha-Sabudana Kheer: Made with flattened rice and tapioca pearls.
- Bulgur Wheat Payasam: Dairy-free kheer made with broken wheat, coconut milk and jaggery.
- Almond flavored rice pudding.
- Millet pudding with poached peaches.
- Rustic pudding made with barley (Chakkara Pongal).
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