Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Almond Kheer for the Gods




As a part of Navratri celebration, we make a sweet pudding and a savory snack mix everyday to serve our guests. One important part of all our celebrations is sweet milk puddings called payasam or kheer. Although there are more than a dozen varieties of payasam, almond kheer is very special. Making it is simple but it remains a delicacy in India due to the very high price of almonds. Besides, a generous pinch of the most expensive spice, saffron is also added, giving it is beautiful pale yellow color. Whenever we go to India, one usual request from relatives is to get them a huge packet of almonds (the one sold at Wholesale warehouses). This is an expensive dish to make but it is the best way to savor the delicate taste of almonds and saffron.

Almond Kheer

1 litre or a very generous 4 cups of milk (low-fat also works)
3-4 T milk for grinding almonds
3/4 cup whole almonds, blanched and skins removed
1.5 cups sugar
A very generous pinch of saffron, crushed in a mortar
Sliced almonds and pistachios for garnish

1. Powder almonds coarsely. Add 3-4 T milk and grind to a smooth paste.
2. Bring milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Add crushed saffron, turn down heat and simmer milk till it is reduced to 3/4 th of the original quantity.
3. Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add almond paste and saute until paste is thickened and you smell a delicious aroma of almonds. Do not let it change color at all. Add sugar and mix until sugar dissolves and the paste become thin. (Some people also skip the sauteeing step and add paste directly to the hot milk. But then you need to boil the milk longer like for 25 min, to cook the almonds. I always had the problem of burnt payasam when I simmer it for such a long duration.)

4. Add the paste to the simmering milk and simmer for 10 min more. Garnish with sliced nuts.

This kheer is best served cold. It is not very sweet like other payasams.

6 comments:

  1. Could almost taste the kheer :) I like it because it's not too sweet and it is best had cold. Yummm...

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  2. Mika.. I love this kheer.We used to buy Badam Mix(Readymade Powder) and prepare this kheer when we were in Hyderabad.
    Now I make it from fresh badams just as you mentioned. Removing the skins of soaked almonds is a time consuming task but Vijay loves this kheer. So I occasionally prepare it for other festivals.

    Good recipe and love the photo.

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  3. Looks heavenly all right! I had no idea you could make kheer with almonds as a base...I have only seen almonds used as a garnish. Thanks for this simple recipe!

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  4. Ditto Nupur on using almonds as a base. Sounds delicious! And I was just craving kheer last night, too...I need to go buy some milk!

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  5. I love, love, love almonds and I'm always glad to have a new recipe featuring them. Thanks!

    Lisa
    http://comfortfood.typepad.com/comfort_food/

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  6. oh, gosh, i hope i get a moment in the next few weeks to try and make this. yum! i didn't even know i missed the payasam until i read your descriptions but i must rectify immediately!

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