“She lifts a bowl of kheer and her thoughts, flittering like dusty sparrows in a brown back alley, turn a sudden kingfisher blue.”
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices
Kheer – an ancient dessert, just the rice and milk mixed together to create one simple and yet so comforting. A bowl of rich, melt in mouth Kheer has the ability to take you back in time, soothe your senses and let you to just be…. This rice pudding that transcends all divides, is found in most parts of the world, so what if its avatars keep changing. The Gujarati cuisine has the Doodh Paak while in southern Indian cuisine it takes the name Paysam, the north has Phirni and the east has Payesh. The word Kheer seems to have derived from the sanskrit word Ksheer meaning milk. The basic ingredient remains milk in this dessert and each region goes on to add its own individuality by altering the rice. So from sago, to vermicelli, to lauki, pumpkin.. the list is both interesting and endless .
Sooji kheer is another much loved version of Kheer where Sooji/Semolina replaces the rice. The change I have made is mixed in with some coconut milk to give it a very subtle coconut taste. The idea was to play around the ingredients of payasam. This particular combination turned out to be as delish. Coconut milk is my new found favorite. The more I am using it the more I am substituting it to milk. The natural sweetness of coconut milk in this dessert allows you to decrease the amount of added sugar. Holi is just round the corner and making this easy and fuss-free dessert is just what you should be looking forward to………
Sooji Kheer in Coconut MilkPrint Recipe
- 1/3 cup sooji/semolina
- 1/3 cup sugar (more if you need)
- 1.5 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup milk, very hot
- 1 cup water, very hot
- a pinch of saffron, soaked in warm milk
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- 10 cashew nuts
- 10 almonds
- 1 cardamon, powdered
- a pinch of nutmeg
- few dry coconut slices, toasted or fried for garnish
- 2 tablespoons ghee
Place a clean, heavy bottom kadai or sauce pan on medium flame.
Simultaneously, heat the water and milk in different pans.
Put a tablespoon of ghee and fry the raisins, cashews and almonds (all separately) till the raisins have plumped up and the nuts have turned golden brown.
Remove from the pan once they are fried.
Give the nuts a rough chop.
Now add another tablespoon of ghee and add the semolina.
Roast the semolina in the ghee till it starts releasing pleasant aroma, very light pink.
Add the heated water, be very careful not to burn your hands with the release of vapour.
Mix well, add the sugar.
Once the sugar melts in the sooji mixture, add the coconut milk.
Cook for a couple of minutes, add the soaked saffron and hot milk.
Continue stirring as the kheer cooks. Add the nuts, raisins ( retaining some for garnish).
If the Sooji Kheer seems to be too thick add some more hot milk.
Turn of the flame and add the nutmeg and cardamon powder.
Serve in individual bowls garnished with fried nuts, toasted or fried coconut slices.
Serve warm or chilled.
I have used coconut milk from tetra-pack. If you do not plan to go beyond one small coconut milk tetra pack (available in India) you may increase the amount of milk. I have not used any full fat milk, just the normal toned or low-fat milk works fine. The quantity of liquids in this recipe will all depend on the quality of Sooji, if it turns too thick you might want to add more liquid to arrive to a right consistency.