Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rice Kheer ( Creamy Rice Pudding)

This is the creamy rice pudding flavoured with cardamom and nuts. In South India Kheer is called payasam and East India it is known as Payesh.

  • ½ cup Basmati rice soaked for 30 minutes
  • ½ litre full cream milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • Few strands of saffron
  • ¼ cup blanched and slivered almonds
  • Few raisins
  • 1 tsp chironji
  • ½ cup sugar (adjust according to taste)
  • 1 tbsp rose water or 1 tsp kewara water

  • Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes. Cook rice in pressure cooker adding 1 ½ cup of water.
  • In a large saucepan add milk , condensed milk and sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  • Now add the cooked rice and simmer till the kheer is creamy.
  • Add almonds and raisins. Stir and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the fire. Allow the kheer to cool down.
  • Sprinkle cardamom powder, saffron and rose water.
  • Chill in refrigerator and serve.

Do You Know:
Kewra plant belongs to screw pine (umbrella tree) family native to southern Asia. It is a shrub with fragrant flowers.

Kewra flowers have a sweet, perfumed odour with a pleasant quality similar to rose flowers but kewra is more fruity. These are used as perfumed aromatic oil (kewra oil) and fragrant distillation (otto) called "keorra-ka-arak". These are stimulant and antispasmodic and are used in headache and rheumatism.

Male flowers are almost exclusively used in the form of a aqueous distillate called kewra water or pandanus flower water. The kewra water is used to flavour food.

The flower is mentioned in the Brahma’s story as the cursed flower. Kewra, also known as ketaki is a forbidden flower cursed by Lord Shiva for bearing a false witness of Lord Brahma. According to a legend, Lord Vishnu was lying on the serpent couch in the sea of eternity. Lord Brahma, while passing by felt insulted when Lord Vishnu neither rose nor greeted him. Both flew into rage over the question of supremacy and this led to a fight.

Horrified Devas rushed to Lord Shiva for aid. On the request of Devas, Lord Shiva proceeded to the battlefield and in the midst of battle, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a huge pillar of light. Both Brahma and Vishnu were awestruck by the cosmic pillar of light. Vishnu had to admit the defeat because he was unable to explore the limits of the mighty pillar of light whereas Brahma on his journey upwards came across ketaki flower waifing down slowly.

Inquiring from the flower from where she had come from, ketaki replied that she had been placed at the top of huge pillar of light.

Although Brahma was unable to find the uppermost limits of the cosmic pillar, he decided to take the flower back to Vishnu to bear witness that Brahma had reached the top of the pillar. Brahma gloated over the defeated Vishnu. This infuriated Shiva. Brahma was punished for telling lie and the creator was banned from being worshipped.

Similarly, ketaki was also cursed that she would never again be used in worship of Shiva. Thus, ketaki is debarred forever from being offered in worship.

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