When I was about six or seven years old, I got bit by a stray kitten that I had rescued. Scared of the repercussions, I desisted from telling mum and dad. Well, that lasted all of two days as the third day the wound blistered and mum noticed. Rather unceremoniously I was hauled off to the doctor’s clinic wherein it was decreed that there was a threat of rabies.
So, I was hospitalized for five days and had to take fourteen (yes, that many, I kid you not) injections in my tummy. The pain of the injections ensured that I never hid any other rescued animals from mum and dad again.
Mum used to make this sewai kheer or vermicelli pudding for me everyday whilst I was laid up in the hospital. That was when I first had it and instantly fell in love. Over the years I have made a few additions to it but the basic recipe remains the same and comes from my mother’s kitchen.
Its smooth creamy texture is finger-licking good. Made with thickened milk and infused with the aroma of India’s favourite spice i.e., cardamom, this is one sweet dish that is a favourite with all generations.
SEWAI KHEER (vermicelli kheer)
1 litre full cream milk
6 tsp of sugar (I advise you to start off with that much and add more later if you prefer your kheer sweeter)
½ tsp cardamom seed powder
I tsp cashew (broken into coarse bits)
1 tsp almonds (with skin) broken into bits
1 tsp raisins/kishmish
1 tsp pistachios for garnish (slivered)
Few strands of saffron for garnish
1 ½ tsp milk masala (this is just dry fruit powder so if you don’t have it then omit this)
1 ½ tbsp roasted vermicelli
1 tsp ghee/clarified butter
Note – I use angel’s hair vermicelli. You can also use the thicker variety but I prefer angel’s hair variety. To roast the vermicelli, heat the ghee in a pan. Once it is hot add in the vermicelli. Stir it for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The vermicelli will emit an aroma and turn browner. Take off the gas at this point and allow it to cool.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the milk and add the sugar. Continue to boil (stirring frequently) till it reduces to half. You can identify this stage easily because the consistency of the milk will thicken and the surface will start erupting in bubbles.
- Add the milk masala at this point and the dry fruits.
- Continue to boil till the milk reduces to slightly more than 1/4th of its original volume. Note – make sure it is more than 1/4th and not less else your kheer will be too dense. If your kheer turns out too dense then don’t despair. Just add some milk to it to get the desired consistency.
- Add the roasted vermicelli. Note – angel’s hair vermicelli cooks very fast so we add it towards the end of the cooking. If you are using a thicker variety then add it after the milk is reduced to half.
- In the end stir in the cardamom seed powder.
- Garnish with saffron strands and slivered pistachios and serve hot or cold (as per your choice)