It has been raining so much here the past week that the only thing I can imagine looking out of the window, watching the rain for a while is 'comfort food'. Nothing more comforting than a bowl of piping hot soup but not today, today I was craving for something more than a bowl of soup. Something really sweet, smooth, creamy and totally fabulous. Hmmm Kheer was the answer to my craving.
Kheer or Payasam dates back to thousands of years and till date most of the old temples still follow the 2000+ year’s old recipe. Here’s a nice read about the oldest recipe http://www.kurma.net/essays/e3.html
Back home, Kheer is a sweet dish made for every festival and the combinations are well, endless. Kheer is traditionally made boiling rice, or vermicelli with milk and sweetened with sugar, jaggery or condensed milk , flavored with cardamom, raisins, saffron, pistachios, almonds and cashew and it can be served hot or cold. My mum used to always make it with vermicelli and condensed milk while my MIL makes it with rice boiled with milk. I wanted to tweak the traditional recipe a bit and was thinking of the possible combinations.
Last weekend we had been to Windermere and we were walking towards the lake and stopped at an ice-cream shop. While I set my heart on a double scoop of hazelnut-chocolate ice-cream my husband ordered Rum & Raisin. I wondered Rum & Raisin of all flavors? I mean I like Rum & Raisin in chocolates but never would try the flavor with ice-cream. For me ice-cream can be only in one flavor… chocolate. Obviously the first thought that came to mind was chocolate Kheer but somehow chucked the idea not wanting to tweak a traditional recipe so much and then thought of Rum & Raisin. And voila, this gorgeous Cardamom-Vanilla-Rum & Raisin Kheer came to life.
Instead of adding the plain raisins into the Kheer I tossed them with a tablespoon or two (can’t remember now) of dark rum. Result: All the same goodness of Kheer, creamy slightly scented with saffron, vanilla and cardamom with a kick of Rum & Raisin. Now I don’t think I can make Kheer any other way.
1/2 cup raisins or sultanas
1-2 tablespoons dark rum
½ cup basmati rice
4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
½ tsp Vanilla extract
Pinch saffron soaked in 1/8 cup warm milk
1-2 cardamom crushed
Wash rice and boil it till ¾ done with 1 cup water and then add 2 cups milk and continue to cook it on slow flame stirring all the while. You need completely mushy rice here. Meanwhile mix the rum with the raisins and microwave for a few seconds and let it sit until the Kheer is ready.
Add rest of the milk reserving just 1 cup for later and once the rice is completely cooked add the sugar, cardamom, remaining milk and saffron and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Turn of the heat and add the rum & raisins and vanilla. Refrigerate for a few hours if you like it cold.