Nepal is the #1 country on my travel bucket list. Someday, when I have enough vacation time and enough money, I would love to spend a few weeks trekking through the Himalayas and visiting monasteries. There’s something about Nepal that just seems so magical – pardon me while I spend the next twenty minutes diving into Nepal-themed pinterest feeds and youtube videos.
Sigh… someday. Until then, I will visit Nepal through its food. This week’s dessert is Khir (Kheer), a rice porridge traditionally made for all sorts of festivities, from weddings to holidays. The ingredients are simple but the result is sublime.
This is the first dish I have made twice. During the first go-round the rice did not cook, but the flavor was so good that I was determined to do it right. The idea behind this dish is simple – cook rice in sweetened milk and add other toppings as desired. It turns out, however, that cooking rice in milk is not as easy as it seems.
The original recipe, referenced below, says to boil to milk and sugar, add the rice and ghee, and continue to boil the entire mixture until the rice is cooked. This strategy was an epic fail and resulted in crunchy rice – even after 30 minutes of cooking. Unfazed, I tried again and this time I treated the rice as if I were making plain white rice for dinner: I soaked the rice in water overnight (although soaking for an hour will also suffice), boiled the milk and sugar, added the rich and ghee, and turned the temperature down to low and let simmer for an hour. After an hour the rice was still every so slightly crunchy, but I didn’t mind and easily ate a whole bowl of this sweetened goodness.
The Moment of Truth
Khir is the chicken soup of desserts – hearty, soulful, and comforting. The next time you are sick or brought down by gray and dreary weather, make a batch of this pudding and I guarantee the day will magically get a little better. This dessert is best enjoyed while curled up on the couch with a good book or your favorite movie and a fuzzy blanket.
The original recipe comes courtesy of We All Nepali, but is also mirrored here and here. I have adjusted the recipe to alert the method for cooking the rice and have added more optional ingredients.
1 cup white rice
2 cups milk
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cardamom
Pinch of black pepper
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup cashews
Boil the milk and sugar in a large pot. Add the rice and ghee and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until rice is fully cooked and all milk has been absorbed. Add the cardamom, black pepper and any of the option ingredients as you desire. Serve either hot or cold.
Nepal is the only country with a non-rectangular flag. The flag consists of two red triangles stacked on top of each other, and the entire design is outlined in blue. There is a crescent moon inside the top triangle and a sun inside the bottom triangle.