29 Jan Coconut Brown Rice Kheer
Today on Butterlust, my first attempt at Indian fare, a cuisine that I admittedly know next-to-nothing about, save for how amazingly happy it makes my belly. Growing up, my parents were never fans of Indian food (because, what?) so I wasn’t exposed to its deliciousness until the end of college, when a brave date decided to introduce me to the magic of curry. Even now, at the ripe old age of 28, I still make Steve order for me most of the time (a responsibility very rarely bestowed on him as it’s well known between the two of us that I am the better “orderer”); he knows all the good stuff by heart, and I usually find myself staring at the menu, wide-eyed, thinking all-of-it-yes-please-thank-you-very-much.
Since Indian recipes can be fairly complex and spice-heavy, I’m starting with a simple, classic Kheer recipe, or Indian rice pudding. Given that my experience is limited to eating and not preparing Indian cuisine, I can only assume this recipe is somewhat lacking in authenticity, though definitely not tastiness, so I do apologize if I’m butchering your grandmother’s recipe…but only a little bit.
In the spirit of research, I conducted some fairly detailed Google searches, including but not limited to topics like…how do you make kheer?, what are the types of kheer?, can you make kheer with brown rice?, is my kheer burning?…so I’m not a complete newbie, but I suppose that the only acceptably thorough research, in my opinion, would be to visit India myself to see and taste first-hand the regional varieties of this Indian classic. Is that so much to ask? (Steve. Looking at you, travel buddy.)
Since I’m stuck here in the States, where it’s still January (or in other words, the worst time of the year for the baking-obsessed), I tried to keep this recipe low on the guilt scale. (Three more days and finally we can talk about butter again!)
Instead of more typical basmati rice, I used brown rice, which takes quite a bit longer to cook but results in a nuttier more wholesome flavor, and adds just a touch more fiber and nutrients that you’d get with a white version. Creamy, delicious coconut milk is used on place of whole milk or cream, which doesn’t cut back on the calories so much as it keeps this dish vegan and imparts just a touch of tropical, coconutty flavor. And then there’s the cardamom. Warm, spicy, earthy — the perfect addition to this comforting goodness.
Many of the traditional recipes I found call for saffron (or kesar — saffron milk) to be mixed into the rice pudding mixture. While I enjoy saffron, I found the kheer to taste a little too savory when I uniformly mixed the spice throughout — I just couldn’t get past my memories of seafood-packed paella — so I chose to instead sprinkle it on top of my kheer as a garnish, alongside toasted coconut and almonds, golden raisins (or sultanas), and pistachios.
Seriously, don’t skimp of the toppings. The chewy, crunchy, toasty bits are where it’s at.
No notes on this one — have a great weekend, folks!
- 3 cups full-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 tablespoons honey (or sweetener of your choice)
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (or more, to taste)
- dash of salt
- toasted almonds
- toasted coconut
- golden raisins
- honey or maple syrup
- Soak rice for 30 minutes to an hour in warm water then drain.
- In a saucepan, bring milks and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the rice, cardamom and salt. Mix well then turn down the heat and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 45-55 minutes, until rice is soft and the mixture is thick and pudding-like. Stir the mixture often as it begins to thicken (at around 40 minutes) in order to prevent the rice at the bottom of the pot from sticking.
- You can either serve this dish warm from the stove or chilled, garnished with the fixings of your choice.