Me + dessert generally = epic disaster, but this was a dinner party, dammit.  It was the right thing to do.

Kheer 1

Kheer is rice pudding; I generally do not get along with baked goods.  I think it’s the precision; I’m a kitchen artist, dammit, not a kitchen scientist.  I was once talking with a baker and mentioned that I’d made a loaf of banana bread and, on a whim, tossed in some chocolate chips because I thought they’d taste good, and he said, “Well, how did you compensate for them?”

I was like, uh, what?  I paid money for them at the grocery store.  He made an exasperated face and explained in small dolt-suitable words that the added moisture and fat would throw off the ratios and so how did I compensate blah blah etc.  That’s never going to be me; I’m a haphazard pinch-of-this dash-of-that until-it-tastes-right cook and I like it that way.

But rice pudding really is more cooked than baked (as one of my dinner guests pointed out before I could get too self-congratulatory over having pulled off a successful dessert), so I took it on.

Thoroughly rinse half a cup of basmati rice.

Kheer 2

Melt a Tablespoon of butter in a saucepan (you could use ghee if you are considerably more committed to authenticity than I am), and toast up the rice until lightly browned, as if for risotto.

Kheer 3

Slightly undercook the rice (based on package instructions) with slightly less water than called for.  You’re looking for a mostly cooked but still al dente texture.

Kheer 5

Add 2 cups of milk and sugar to taste (remembering that rice is pretty bland and can take a lot of flavor – I think I ended up with around 3/4 cup).  Drop the heat to medium and start cooking the rice until the pudding begins to thicken.

Kheer 6

Now it’s time to season.  I used cardamom, nutmeg, and saffron (and for that last, lots of love goes out to The Spice House for hooking me up with the good shiz).  Crush the saffron threads lightly before stirring them in.

Kheer 7

Then just keeeeeep cooking.  Keep onnnnnnn cooking.

Kheer 8

You want it to come together with a porridgelike consistency.  It is, however, better to pull it slightly early than slightly late, because it will thicken more as it’s being chilled.

Kheer 9

Chill the kheer overnight.  When you serve it, if you do indeed find that it’s too thick, just thin it back out by stirring in a little cold milk.

Scoop the chilled kheer into a bowl or cocktail glass, then top with finely diced watermelon and toasted almonds.  After a spicy meal, note that the refreshing sweetness and textural contrast provide an interesting and soothing finish.

The same guest who so relished pointing out that I’m still no baker announced her intention to go home and masturbate to thoughts of the meal, which I’m sure is a tremendous compliment in many circles.  I pronounce this dinner party a success.  Jai Ho indeed!

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