The Last Word on Kheer


Well, as I was saying (paraphrasing Ammini) “Much is made of rice in Kashmir.” It is the staple at meal times, naturally. For most ‘holy’ days and special days like birthdays, as also to mark new beginnings, we make taher (soft ta – her) – rice cooked with turmeric and mixed with salt and heated mustard oil as naveed (prasad); more delicious than you may think. Any function in the family – weddings, yagnopavit (the thread ceremony) – the bua or maasi (aunts) will make ver, a risotto like preparation in which rice is spiced with caraway seeds, heeng, and vari-masala, and creamed with the gradual addition of water and mustard oil (what else!), quite the olive oil to us. There will be walnuts added, or in the non-vegetarian avtar, chichir (bits of, ahem, intestine). While modur polav is usually served at weddings, the sweet at other less-extra-ordinary occasions is the Kheer.

Now, this is again where Kashmiris are at loggerheads with Maharashtrians. Maharashtrians serve rice kheer only for shraddha! And we think the(ir) sevian (vermicelli) kheer is nothing to write home about (no relation of the muslim seviyan, mind you, which is an altogether different delicious animal). We serve rice first on our thali which then receives all the gravied dishes – katori being used only to serve yoghurt. On a Maharashtrian thali, rice is served last; except, again, when observing a shraddha. If they serve the rice to the front of the thali, we serve it on the other end away from you, and you bring forward, a little at a time, mix it how you want and eat. They serve a dainty handful, we upturn an entire bowl-full. Yet the twain has met!

And guess what I must have made when I decided to showoff my culinary skills in the dessert section? In all fairness to the in-laws, they didn’t mention the taboo till much later. By then, they didn’t care for it anyway. The taboo, not the Kheer! The kheer was a hit, and I have converted many a Maharashtrian since. When it was my FIL’s 75th birthday celebration, I suggested rasmalai for dessert. My MIL looked at me not quite understanding what had come over me. Birthday, 75th, Maharashtrian people, and rice kheer, surely not? But rice kheer it was. Without the addition of “a spoonful of rava” for “shastra”, as suggested by that well-meaning friend of hers. In which case, technically, it would be saved from being kheer. She pulled me aside in the kitchen and said, “Make it as you always do.” This was her best friend! My MIL never made her gavha chi kheer (wheat kheer – you call that kheer?) after tasting my kheer. So, there.

This is how I, a Kashmiri daughter-in-law, gained renown in the Maharashtrian circle as a maker of terrific desserts (plural just sounds better 🙂 ) with my repertoire of two desserts. The remaining Kashmiri desserts (one and a half) I have never needed to prepare. But I promise to, for the sake of my readers’ curiosity.

There are kheers, and then there is my kheer. I have worked on this recipe a lot. This is A Mad Tea Party original. I have tried every trick there is in the trade – added sooji, used cooked mashed rice, and many such blasphemous short cuts to get to the creamy kheer of my dreams. I came upon that in the kitchen of my uncle who is a household name, in small town Raton (NM). I was visiting him from Denver. And he made, you guessed it, kheer. This was what kheer could be: the perfect marriage of rice and milk cooked to a delicate creaminess. It would still take me a couple of attempts before I had my recipe.

The best part is, it is not hard work either. When I made it for Navreh/ Gudi Padva two days ago, it took all of 45 minutes. And I didn’t need to stir like crazy either – just the last 5 or 10 min. This time I used my pressure cooker instead of my regular, way thinner, aluminium pan and I didn’t need to worry about the milk scorching at all! Live and learn. So, first, find a heavy bottom pan and you’re in business. The rest is just a love affair between the milk and the rice. Second, it is important to pre-soak the rice. This will help it cook before the milk gets too concentrated to allow further cooking. That happened to me once, and I actually had to add water to let my rice cook properly! And third, use milk and rice in the given proportion. Use any milk, as long as it is 2% or richer.

If you are going for the true Kashmiri version, add slivers of copra (dry coconut) and raisins. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But almonds, always. As well as saffron.



1 katori (3/4th C) basmati rice
2 lt milk (2% or richer – I use 3%)
1 3/4th katori (1 1/2 C)sugar (use more or less, to taste)
1 t freshly ground cardamom
one big pinch Kashmiri saffron (use double if using Spanish or other brands)
½ katori (1/4 C) almonds, blanched and split
slivered copra (dry coconut) (optional)
raisins (optional)

Soak rice in water for an hour. Drain. In a heavy bottom pan, such as your aluminium pressure cooker bottom, pour in 2 litres of milk and the drained rice. Bring to a boil.

after cooking 20 min

after cooking 30 min

after cooking 40 min

Reduce the heat to the minimum needed to keep it on a rolling boil. Leave a wooden spoon in; it will prevent the milk from boiling over. If you are using a heavy bottom pan you’ll be fine and not need to stir all the time, maybe once in 5 min. This was the first time I used my cooker for this, and I have never been happier. Busy yourself with other things you need to do in the kitchen; just keep an eye on the boiling milk. I would advise against using a shallow wider pan in which the milk may thicken too soon. The rice will be cooked in about 20 min, and start to break up in another 10. After nearly 35-40 min of cooking, now is the time to reduce the heat some and stir continuously for the next 5-7 min. The rice will have disintegrated into a creamy kheer. That’s it. Kheer is almost done. Turn the heat off. Add sugar, the other ingredients from the list and stir. Chill in the refrigerator and serve. It will thicken as it cools.

I like to leave my saffron in as strands and not stir too much. I like the shades of cream to bright orange in my kheer later.

Cut down on the sugar as much as you want. Try a spoonful without. If this is not the last word on Kheer, what is?

With lots of hugs to my pal, Manisha. 🙂


Published by


A self professed urban ecologist!

48 thoughts on “The Last Word on Kheer”

  1. Looks great Anita. My kids love Rice pudding too with Vanilla.I love the Basmati and Cardamom flavors in this Kheer.Thanks:)

    I like vanilla too. Not in my perfume, and neither in my kheer!

  2. so anita, which is the other dessert you were referring to? this kheer looks sublime. i’m with you about the vermicelli stuff. i never liked it.

    Didn’t link it earlier – the modur polav!

  3. Maharashtrian kheer leaves a lot to be desired. And it is usually shevyanchi kheer with lots of saay but there is rice kheer, too. My Dad loved kheer and we were so non-traditional as a family, that it was made whenever he asked for it and not just for shraddha.

    So, yes! It looks very good, Anita. But only 20 minutes for it to thicken that much? I will try this but I will stir often as I have found that stirring prevents malai from forming and then becoming part of the kheer. I don’t care much for that stuff.

    That first pic is fabulous. I keep reaching for the screen to wipe away your watermark and look at it properly.

    Last word on kheer? Indeed.

    On paal paayasam? Not! 😀

    It only seems that it has reduced by half – the boiling milk made the high marks. It usually takes longer, but this time I was using the cooker bottom and it was perfect!

    And since I use Mother Dairy’s homogenised milk, it is not likely to form malai. Also, the rolling boil helps I think. So, no saay, in my kheer or dahi. Marna hai kya?

    So, the watermark is distracting? I agree, for these pics at least, it could go a couple of shades lighter, or just smaller.

  4. The first pic looks fantabulous!!!!!! (How do you add the watermark?? Photoshop??)
    I am not much of a kheer fan….. but you pic is tempting me to try out!!! 😀

    Free software – TH helps out with such ‘tech’ things. I’ll get the link from him.
    You’ll convert too!

    Check TH’s comment below for link

  5. Ah….I see I am honoured once again by the use of my favorite spice! How sweet of you! 🙂

    I love the combination of rice and coconut. Have you ever tried Thai coconut sticky rice with fresh ripe mangoes? For being such a simple dessert, I must admit it is one of my favorites! As I am sure when I attempt it, so too will this be!

    BTW I tried your mutsch recipe, with one or two changes…and posted the results! 😀

    Yes, Pel, Elaichi – because you wanted to but got sidetracked with Thalia… 🙂

    I have yet to try the sticky rice dessert.

    That awesome ‘Kashmiri Mutsch’ – it’s very original!

  6. Kheer…..thats kinda’ sentimental…..

    This is more or less the same way Mom used to make kheer…..and i do the same.

    i never cared much for desserts…..but this was one home made desserts which when chiled was divine…..
    Kesar-MUST, almonds-MUST 🙂 Kheer is incomplete without these…..and without slow cooking.

    Arshi, one of my friends, made another variety:with rice and shredded carrots-gives a nice color and taste-but she always used to blend 1/3 of the kheer with carrots after 20 mins of cooking. Shortcuts :))

    Pel reminds me about Mutsch-so, i tried vegetarian mutsch. my substitute: Shredded mushrooms (microwave 2-3 mins before shredding)with rajma paste and besan. I dunno’ how real mutsch tastes ;)-but this one was good too :)).

    Been there (short cuts)! But kheer deserves better. That too when it really is not as labourious as made out to be.

    I tried my hand at the mushroom-besan mutsch too (no rajma paste though)! Needed more besan because it was falling apart a bit- but, though not quite mutsch 🙂 , definitely tasty in its own right.

  7. I loved the pics…and I agree with you in not mixing the saffron into the kheer…it looks soo much more better this way. I mentioned in on Manisha’s blog and here too…I don’t have a sweet tooth but this one I can have anytime of the year, month or day !!
    I guess after the two of you doling out perfect write-ups for this one I am going to keep mine short n sweet 🙂

    We are jabbermouths. But that doesn’t mean you cannot be one too! 🙂

  8. “Kheer deserves better”: WORD!

    i always asked my friend as to why she brought the blending business in, and she would just smile and wink!!

    Personally, those tricks are a no-no. Kesar gives that color and aroma, the body and “ghadapan” the divine thickness comes with slow cooking in a heavy bottomed pan. Add elaichi and dry fruit and its indeed YUM :).

    Veggie-mutsch (is that even a word) is quite tasty 🙂

    “No malai in dahi”: i heart that :))

  9. <hijack rel=”start”>
    Musical, I have to share this with you. Your post is the second place where I saw the word ‘ghadapan.’ The other was in Laxmi Hiremath’s Dance of Spices. Except that she wrote it as ‘ghadhapan’. No prizes for figuring out what this GHADHA thought that word was and wondered just what in heavens name it had to do with food.
    <hijack rel=”end”>

    BTW, she’s got her own space now! [heaves a sigh of relief] So there is no need for the hijack drama.

    Just kidding. I am happy to provide the space – it is good to be included and also nice to know, that I have been able to provide the same kinda space here as in my home – where friends feel free to be. (no smart-ass comments now, Manisha)

  10. Anita,

    Do you smell something-rave idlis, cheelas and paranthas are waiting for you :).

    I did it, yeah!

    Go, figure :).

    ‘Tis the season or something!! Another one bites!! Yes, love is the most important ingredient!!

  11. Are you from Kashmir? Wow! Really? Wow! I didnt know that. Let me read your blog from top to bottom!

    Well, I was born there and brought up a Kashmiri in saadi dilli. I had been ignoring that part of myself on the blog somewhat…

  12. Hi Anita and TH, Thank you so much!!!!! Till now which ever site I came across, all were paid ones…. I was looking out for a free watermark software and hear I found it, thanks to you. 🙂 Thanks dear, I tried it and it works brilliantly!!!!!!

    Glad to be of help. TH has his uses! 🙂

  13. Wow, all the action happened and I did not get a whiff of it 🙂 Brilliant as usual, and this is one thing I can try right, unlike the meatballs…your description makes kheer sound like the ultimate exotica ever. Manisha’s comments and your answers have become an interesting angle of your blog 😀

    Nandita, you must try this. It honours elaichi and saffron both! You can always make it with 2% milk, and very little or no sugar even! It is so good, that you will be happy even if you eat just a half-katori (hard to do though) 🙂

    So, I should not try to shut her up then? (Like she listens!)

  14. He he, you do provide a space for some great banter, you do :).

    Haan, food-blogging ka mausam hai aajkal-so my heart said, mausam ki sargam ko sun 🙂

    Spring has really sprung!

  15. I need to shut up really. I am not so much of a chatterbox otherwise. I talk more when I write. What to do? Crochet sounds very good. But I have two hungry people begging for rava idlis. I don’t know why I opened my mouth and told them I would make them today! It’s really a perfect day for kanda bhajji and masala chai.

    It truly is spring here. We had our first spring hailstorm, too. Last spring was not as green as this spring because we got a lot more snow and rain. It’s been raining all day. And the colors in the landscape are slowly becoming more vivid from drab brown.

    I forgot I was going to shut up 😀 don’t listen to me!

    I am sure you are different in real life. 🙂

  16. No worries Manisha, you make the rave-idlis for ’em 🙂 and i’ll dish out some kanda bhajjis for all of us here.

    Anita, howz the mausam in Delhi-do you want idlis or bhajji :).

    I must choose?

  17. Dear Anita,
    That is the last word on Kheer – what with all the cultural differences between states highlighted in such an interesting way. It was fun reading it. Very thorough I must say.
    The stages shown for boiling the rice would help in the cooking process. The recipe is excellent! The saffron being left on the top is a great idea and makes the kheer look extra delicious. I cant resist raisins in Kheer though.

    Thanks and welcome, Pritya. Raisins are good in Kheer. I just get lazy sometimes 🙂

  18. I get the feeling that “ka” means “with” right? wrong? close? Yep… I’m going to drive any bilingual Indians nuts when I visit.
    Is “kanda” a vegetable?
    Do people still take their hats off near clove trees? Is there another English name for “white cumin”/sufaid zeera?
    What is Manisha really like in person?

    Tune in tomorrow for these answers and more on the next episode of A Mad Tea Party!… 🙂

    Anita adds:
    Not just the topic, even my response section is being hijacked!! (that above is my dear friend Pel, filling in)…All things considered, I was spot on in naming my blog!!

    ‘ka’ means ‘of’ inHindi. ‘Kanda’ is Marathi for onion, and ‘bhajji’ for pakoras! Who’s bilingual here? I can speak, write and read English and Hindi (and Hindustani!), I can understand Marathi, Punjabi and Kashmiri, and Amerikanese 😀 too!

    Don’t know what clove trees you are talking about..huh? White cumin..? Manisha in person? She’s real??

    Looks like ‘white cumin’ is the ordinary cumin. The other one is shahjeera or kala jeera which is a wild variety, and not, as I thought, caraway.

  19. ooops! too many slants…sorry Anita. Can you fix it? It’s only fair you know! 😉

    You don’t really want me to fix that, do you?

  20. Yeah…leave out the raisins…pineapple would be good!

    Good html practice going on, I see. Manisha will be so proud of us. She’s taken that ‘shut up’ seriously though… 🙂 She just needs to look at this to see it wasn’t quite the last word!

  21. Oh, and thank you for the Hindi translations milady…I touch your feet…

    You are welcome. Consider yourself blessed. 😀

  22. Who’s Manisha?

    You haven’t heard of Manisha? She’s this all-seeing, all-knowing, (omnipresent?) being (real or ethe-real, we don’t know), affectionately known as The Learned One by some. 🙂

  23. This is a real treat to my eyes.This kheer looks devine,tempting ,mouth watering.Now what more to say have no words to describe it.Lovely presentation and wonderful photography

    Thank you for the appreciation. Go ahead and try it.

  24. Anita,

    Could you please suggest a couple of shops in Delhi where I can obtain Kashmiri saffron and vari masala? You had mentioned in a prior post that INA market is the place to go for these things, but I would appreciate it if you could point me to some specific shops or sellers that are known for high quality.



    Hi Veena. For Kashmiri spices and other ingredients including the special vari masala and dried vegetables try Durga Masalewala in INA Market. He’s to the left of the green grocers. The purity of Saffron is always iffy unless you have a very trusted source. You may try a little at first and see if you are satisfied.

    In NOIDA also there are a couple of shops where you will find the special spices. In Sector 34 there is a kandur (baker) with all the speciality breads, a grocer with the spices and nuts, and a butcher who can prepare meats to the satisfaction of Kashmiris!

  25. My Fav Sweet Dish…. Thks Ma apni Hon wali wud bi nu aakha ga aa Note kar le.. 😛

    Hi Sunny. You could always surprise her instead!

  26. I love kheer and this is probably the first time I am making it. And it was great! Thanks a lot for your delicious recipe.

    I am so glad you made it, Umm Maryam. It is such an easy recipe – enjoy!

  27. hi anita
    it was so good to see your reply….yes you were right in telling me that i enjoy cooking a lot…it is just that my husband is a better cook and being in hostel for past 8 years..i didnt have much hands-on-experience….but now i am sure that with your help i will be a better cook….these days being a housewife i dont have much work at home so now my hobby and my favourite past time is reading your blog and trying your recipes….with your answers on the comments i can judge out that you are a great person by heart and i am glad to know you like this and somehow you look so approachable…like i used to work in meerut and noida for like 2 years…so good to see that you are very much real (as good people are so hard to find)…well today i am trying my hands on kheer ..your way..though i tried it once before …but as you indicated earlier it went very dry without rice get actually cooked so i need to add lot of milk again and again and then i ended up in a kheer look-alike….well i was again sad ..but now i am going again to try this as my hubby loves kheer and today i will give him a good kheer as a surprise…pretty sure…that it will come out real good…thanks to you !!! (will post the actual result soon)

    I’m sure you’re going to have great results!

  28. hi anita
    feeling very gud to tell u that the kheer i made it last sunday ..your way… got me 10/10 from hubby….n ofcourse you deserve 8 from that 10…well it was made as you suggested but took around one hour more …this could be possible coz i was little worried cooking it in cooker and kept low heat…so that may be the reason…but ya now i can count on kheer as one of my speciality…thanks buddy…
    thanks a lot !!!

    It is a fail-proof easy recipe!

  29. Hi Anita,
    I made kheer in my slow cooker (crockpot)following your recipe and it turned out great. The best part was that I did not have to stand in the kitchen stirring all the time till the kheer was done. Thanks for the recipe.

    Now that’s an idea for all of us! You do miss out on the therapeutic stirring though!

  30. I have just found your blog, and I like it 🙂 I love Indian food and I blog too, but I make my version of Indian food, still pretty damn good! 😀

  31. I have been making kheer for about 30 years. When I got a Maslin pan I finally reached perfection w/o stirring. They are available at a few mailorder places. It has the thick bottom and wide top needed for the condensation. It is originally for jams but you will love it for kheer. I will be trying your version soon. I am so glad to find your blog. c

  32. Very good rice pudding recipe. Only wanted to say that I am a Maharashtrian and we are not at loggerheads about serving rice the traditional Marathi thali, rice and dal are served first. Then comes chapati. Finally rice again. The quantities and positions might be varied …However, very happy that you are winning over hearts of your in-laws 🙂
    Also can share similar recipe as yours for making a seriously delicious shevayachi kheer Marathi sthyle …
    For rice pudding – try adding the raisins earlier and cooking – makes for a different flavor and texture. Also great candidates for flavoring are kewra water or rose water …


    Of course Maharashtrians eat rice. But the ones I know eat a tiny bit at the start and the end of the meal. Kashmiris eat ‘only’ rice and by the bowlfuls!
    This is a basic recipe; flavour and tweak as you like!

  33. Thank you for telling me about the not serving the rice first part. I am from Andhra Pradesh and got married into a Maharashtrian family. My MIL told me that but being a south indian, it was always rice first for us. Frankly.. it doesn’t matter I thought. Now I understand the sentiment behind it. After years I learnt the daavi, ujvi plating and she proudly tells her friends about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s