Satisfy your sweet tooth with kheer—a creamy rice pudding delicately flavored with saffron, cardamom, and nuts.
From an ayurvedic perspective, an Indian dish called kheer is a light yet nourishing dessert. It has a cooling effect on the body, which is helpful in the summer when the pitta dosha (the subtle energy that controls metabolism and can cause us to overheat) dominates. According to The Yoga of Herbs by Vasant Lad and David Frawley, cardamom increases agni (digestive fire) and counteracts the mucus-forming properties of milk; saffron is cooling and promotes assimilation of the dish’s nutrients. The milk and nuts provide about 10 grams of protein per serving, while the raisins and sugar enhance the dish’s natural sweetness.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
8 cups milk
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice (usually basmati)
1/8 cup almonds (sliced, slivered, or crushed)
1/4 cup raisins (golden or dark)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seed
2 threads saffron
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1. Rinse the rice and combine it with milk in a medium pot. Slowly bring to a low boil, stirring so the milk does not scorch. After about 30 minutes the rice should be done—the grains should be plump and almost falling apart.
2. Add the nuts and raisins, cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, and then turn off the heat.
3. Take a spoonful of hot milk and pour it over 2 threads of saffron in a shallow dish. After a few moments you should be able to grind the saffron into a paste with the back of a metal spoon. Stir the saffron paste, cardamom, and sugar into the kheer and let it rest, covered, until it reaches room temperature. Then cool in the refrigerator until it is time to serve.
Try a variety of dried fruits, such as apricots or apples. Swap the almonds for cashews. Substitute honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup for sugar. Add a drop of rosewater. Garnish with 1/4 cup crushed pistachio nuts.
Watch the author make kheer on our new cooking show at www.yogaplus.org/kitchen.
Jon Janaka has worked in the Himalayan Institute kitchen over the past five years.
Yoga+ is an award-winning, independent magazine that contemplates the deeper dimensions of spiritual life–exploring the power of yoga practice and philosophy to not only transform our bodies and minds, but inspire meaningful engagement in our society, environment, and the global community.