Monday, December 28, 2009

Rice Walnut Risotto- Day 4

Rice kheer is no friend of mine. Most of my attempts to make rice pudding resulted in something akin to doodh-bhaat, and not the creamy concoction I desired. Probably because I never took to rice kheer the way I love my seviyaan. Growing up kheer always meant seviyaan- roasted in homemade ghee, sweetened with khoya and garnished with plump, golden raisins and meant to be scooped up with fluffy, hot puris. Well, then I got married and discovered the East Indian kheeri- made with boiled rice, something I didn't quite care for. It took several long years for me to make peace with the hubby's idea of kheer. Even then the rice sensed my hesitation and simply refused to turn into the rich dessert I envisioned. I tried cooking it in the rice cooker, as one recipe advised, cooking it all day on a low flame, adding khoya, condensed milk, roasting the rice, heirloom recipes culled from secretive grandmothers...just about every tip in the book. It just did not work, the kheer was too watery, too thick, the rice lacking any flavor or texture. And then, when I had all but given up, there seemed one trick I hadn't tried yet. This came after a satisfying mushroom risotto dinner, the rice was cooked so perfectly and every mouthful exploded with flavor. So why not cook the kheer like risotto? I love risotto...the starch from the rice binding the dish in gluey deliciousness. Warm, undoubtedly creamy and rich, it would slide down the gullet as only comfort food can. So this risotto was born out of a desire to make the perfect rice kheer...and it happily evolved into something I could call pudding or risotto and not betray my beloved seviyaan.

Rice Walnut Risotto?
2-3 tsp ghee
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
5 cups milk
1 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
a couple of pinches of saffron
2-3 pods of cardamom
1 tbsp raisins
The secret to a good risotto is technique and patience. You need to give the rice time to release its starch slowly. Its easier than it sounds though. I used Arborio rice, which is used in traditional risottos, its a lovely starchy long grain that lends itself nicely to this dessert and is available more readily than the other varieties.
To start, pour the milk in a pan with the cardamom and put it on low heat till the milk starts bubbling gently. Dissolve the sugar in the hot milk, add the condensed milk to it and keep it on a gentle simmer till you finish cooking. Add the saffron strands to the milk mixture.
Toast the rice on ghee till it is slightly translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped walnuts and toast them too. Add a ladle of hot milk and stir the rice till the milk is absorbed. Then add another ladleful. Keep doing this till you finish the milk and the rice is cooked through. Keep stirring and cook the rice on low to medium heat.
Risotto gets a bad rap for being notoriously difficult to cook at home, but I find it pretty forgiving. Just make sure the liquid in the pan is all absorbed before you pour in more and you should be good.
This risotto had a wonderful mouthfeel with the nutty walnuts and sweet raisins, and the rice...the rice was infused with most delicate hints of saffron and cardamon. I garnished with slivered almonds, you could eat it out of the pan, on a cold winter night.
This one is for day 4 of the marathon. I am back from my vacation and will check your posts tomorrow. Thanks for the comments, you guys know just what to say to make a girl happy.


Sheetal Kiran

"Warm, undoubtedly creamy and rich.." that's exactly this post, Manasi! I almost felt the loveliness sliding down, and settling in just the empty spots in my tummy ... mmmm!


Hi Manasi,
I liked the way you've explained the nuances of Risotto. The ignorant me feels enlightened. I love desserts and puddings. Will try this during my nxt dessert session.


I can't imagine that Kheer with Rice can be made so creamy & so easily.
Thanks for the tips.
I will try making it this way and let you know about my experience.



Yummy,would love try ur recipe :)

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