Kheer, or rice pudding, has got to be the easiest dessert to make in the world…and one of the most frustrating.
I remember my naani making it on a wood-burning chulha. She set the embers down to real low and placed her milk on it first thing in the morning. She went about her daily business after that, never forgetting to come back and give the milk a good stir every so often. The milk simmered, and thickened until lunch time. This is when she put the rice and other goodies in. More simmering….Just after lunch, all four of us grandkids could take it no more. It was sheer torture…the aromatizing smells coming out of the pot; and our grandma guarding it like Cinderella’s stepmom. Late in the afternoon, the handi was transferred into a wide-mouthed paraat filled with chilled water from the well. And there it cooled until grandma deemed it ready enough to eat; which was always, frustratingly, after dinner.
My mom, in the expensive city trying to conserve Natural gas used for cooking, started using a pressure cooker. She’d cook the rice a smidgen with water; then transfer cooked rice with milk, sugar and everything else into a heavy bottomed cast iron kadai. Her simmering was limited to maybe an hour or so, but since she couldn’t get the flame low enough, she was constantly watching her pot. Her kheer was good; but naani’s was better. My mom always blamed it on the low quality milk she got in the city.
The first couple times I tried to make kheer in the USA; I burnt the milk….despite the fact that it was on the stove for less than an hour. Then friends suggested using half-and-half and told me a quick version. Which is how I have been making my kheer all along. My Kheer never came close to my mom’s - and I blamed it all on the quality of milk in USA…..Which is probably the reason making Kheer for me is restricted to major holidays that we celebrate.
But the fact is, Anya loves Kheer. She’d eat it for lunch and dinner- if she could. A couple weeks ago; we went to a friend’s and seeing Anya’s face light up when she saw Kheer for dessert made me feel guilty. That whole week, I just felt like I should be able to do this more often. Except that, even on weekends, I hardly get the extra hours to make something so finicky, Until, I remembered my slow cooker. And this is how my slow cooker Kheer turned out….
How I did it:
Rice 1/2 Cup washed and rinsed.
Milk 3 + 1/2 cups
Sugar 1 cup
Cardamom powder 1/2tsp
Crushed cardamom pods 3
A fistful of golden raisins
Combined everything and cooked on low for 5hrs.
My two cents: For the first time in my hands, the kheer reached a creamy, thick consistency so reminiscent of my childhood. I did not have to stand watch; and I did not burn the milk. I did come back and scrape down the sides of the slow cooker every hour or so. And I had to add another 1/2 cup of milk mid-way. A surprisingly easy, low stress way to make Kheer- slow cooker is definitely perfect for this recipe.