Patishapta pitha was the rare pitha I would eat growing up. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I just did not enjoy most pithas I had. [Pitha: Bengali dumplings. Usually made out of rice flour. Sometimes a combo of rice flour and wheat flour. And in my experience, dry af most of the time. Sometimes sweet with a coconut or jaggery filling. And, as I found out after marriage, sometimes plain, eaten with curry.]
South Asian rice pudding (Kheer)
Apologies for dragging him into yet another one of my posts, but I’ll do it anyway. One of the many things my dear husband and I bond over is our mutual disdain for South Asian sweets. It seems they’re all permutations of milk products or by products, overly sweetened and offering little by way of depth of flavor (think: golap jam, rosh golla, malai kari and so on). We have, however, a few exceptions: sweet doi (yogurt), rosh malai and my Rahima Aunty’s kheer.
This is a very traditional dish done in a not-so-traditional way. In the olden days, you would slave over a hot stove all day, slowly reducing a vat of milk to about half, then adding the rice and sugar until cooked and sufficiently thickened. Rahima Aunty has figured out a way to cut down the cooking time and even add richness by using a 2:1 milk to heavy cream combination. She also blitzes the rice (increasing the surface area), which allows the starches to develop further, resulting in super thick and creamy, almost gelatinous pudding.
To achieve the traditional smokey flavor of a gurer (date molasses) kheer, I’d highly recommend picking up some from your local South Asian market. I haven’t tried it with regular molasses, but you’re welcome to give it a shot! And of course, because I can never just stick to a recipe, I added a dash of salt and bit of vanilla to round out the flavors. I’ve already made a serious dent to the bowl…thanks, Aunty!
- 1/2 cup basmati rice
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup date molasses
- 3/4 tsp vanilla
- dash salt
- 1 tbsp butter (or ghee [clarified butter])
Soak the rice in water for 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to prepare the pudding, drain the rice and dump into a food processor. Pulse to break up the rice (don’t overdo this step…you don’t want a paste).
Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Pour in the rice and simmer until the rice is cooked through, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Continue to simmer until reduced, for 15 minutes. Add molasses, vanilla and salt and stir continuously for the last 5 minutes. Off the heat, add the butter (or ghee) until melted.
Pour into serving bowl immediately and cover with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming.