If there’s one thing y’all should know about me, it’s that I don’t consider myself a baker. I don’t have the patience to test five different versions of a potential recipe and experiment with how leavening agents affect a baked good. It’s not entirely my fault, I didn’t grow up in a household where baked goods were a thing. Most Indian desserts I grew up with just weren’t baked in the oven like traditional European or American cakes and cookies. What my parents did make for dessert included stove-top mixed batters and puddings filled with spices and fruits, that were then poured into a big serving bowl or set to cool on a tray and cut into bite-sized treats. One of those amazing desserts happened to be this amazing rice pudding called kheer.
If you didn’t know, kheer is rice pudding dessert from India that is simply made by boiling rice with milk, sugar, and a few spices. It’s really sweet and light in flavor and one of my absolute favorite desserts. While my mom will make it for some special occasions, sometimes when the family just has a craving for it she’ll make a batch to keep in the fridge for the week.
While some variations include dried fruits and mixed nuts into the pudding, (my dad likes versions like that!) I am firmly in the plain pudding camp. It’s kind of like how I feel about things mixed into chocolate, I think it’s unnecessary, and I want the simple version. If you’re feeling traditional and want the “dad” version of this pudding though, you could add raisins, sliced almonds, and pistachios into the pudding!
Of course when I make Indian recipes, I veer towards the untraditional, so in this version of kheer I decided to turn it into a cute little parfait paired with mango.
Mangos are another one of those staple fruits in Indian houses and it was totally normal for my parents to have a whole case of them on the counter during the summer to eat. Sometimes for dessert, my dad literally just cut a mango in half and would scoop out the fruit with a spoon. Simple and easy! I think the fruit pairs perfectly with the kheer since they are both fairly mild in flavor with the mango adding a little bit of tang and freshness to the otherwise sweet pudding.
I am cheating a bit by calling this a mango “curd” though. In trying to keep this a little lighter and healthier than the traditional sugar and butter filled version, the mango curd is literally just roasted and pureed mango. You get a similar affect by having a smooth and creamy curd just without all the tempering of eggs and butter on the stove.
I did take the extra step of roasting the mango here though, as I like that it helps to concentrate and caramelize the flavors of the mango a bit. Once they’re all roasted, you just toss them into a food processor with a bit of salt and cardamom seeds and blend until it’s all smooth and creamy. I’ve been keeping the extra curd in the fridge for topping off yogurt bowls with and it’s been the perfect summer upgrade.
While I did health-ify my kheer a bit, it still reminds me of what my parents would make back home and it’s all kinds of delicious. Serve it up as a delicious dessert or even treat yourself to a parfait for breakfast! (I promise I won’t tell!)
for the kheer ::
- 8 cups of milk (traditionally you would use whole milk, but I used almond milk!)
- seeds from 2 cardamom pods
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/3 cup of basmati rice, washed and drained
- 1 tsp of rosewater
for the mango puree ::
- 3 fresh mangos, peeled and cubed
- pinch of salt
- seeds from 1 cardamom pod
for optional toppings ::
- chopped nuts like almonds or pistachios
- chopped berries
for the kheer ::
- In a large heavy saucepan, add the milk and cardamom pods and bring up to a boil over high heat. Stir occasionally to prevent a film from forming on the top.
- Reduce the heat medium and continue to simmer the milk for about 15 - 20 minutes to reduce. Add the sugar and the rice and cook for another 25 - 30 minutes until the rice has softened. You want the rice to be softer and more pudding-like in the milk liquid. If there is still extra liquid in the rice, continue cooking and stirring on low for another 10 minutes. The pudding should be thick but have a little liquid.
- Remove rice from heat and add the rose water and mix. Set aside to cool and place in fridge.
for the mango puree ::
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Add the cubed mangoes onto a lined sheet tray into an even layer and roast in oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- In a food processor, add the roasted mango, a pinch of salt, and the seeds from the cardamom pod. Blend until smooth.
for assembly ::
- Using your serving-ware of choice, alternate layers of the kheer and mango curd to create a parfait.
- Top off with choice of ingredients.