This month, we taste two of my favorite Indian desserts: Kheer, and Gulab Jamun. Kheer is otherwise known as Indian Rice Pudding. Gulab Jamun are fried balls of milk solids, soaked in a sugar/honey syrup. These are both common items on Indian lunch buffets, which I happen to love. I'm not a big fan of curry, but there are so many other Indian food options that I do love, so Indian food will always be one of my favorites.
This post is actually a super bargain deal!! You get not one, but THREE different recipes! Okay, one of the recipes is actually for something you have to make in order to make the Gulab Jamun, but that's just semantics, really.
Since I had never made any of these recipes, or really much of anything like them, this was a learning process for me. I also relied on what I knew these desserts were supposed to taste and look like, based on what they are like in the restaurants. The kheer was pretty simple, and came out just as I expected. The Gulab Jamun was a different story. I'm pretty sure I messed up the khova - as I don't think it was supposed to come out brown, like this:
But, since I wasn't sure if it was good or not, I went ahead and made the balls out of it. They came out okay at first. The taste was pretty good, but they weren't as solid as they normally are when you get them in a restaurant. And, they pretty much fell apart after a few hours in the sugar syrup. So, that was a quasi-fail. It's a good thing I only made a half-batch, so I only had six golf ball-sized balls.
The kheer was creamy and wonderful. It took a little longer than I was expecting to thicken up, but I just remained patient and let it do it's thing, and that worked out in the end. I ate it warm the first night, and I've been enjoying it right out of the fridge since then. (BONUS - the hubster does not like kheer, or really any rice-based dessert I've ever made, so I get to eat all of it! Score!)
I sort of cobbled these recipes together from various internet sources. I kind of took bits from one recipe, combined with bits from another one, and made sure I used recipes that had ingredients I knew I could find (no rose water) at a regular store. For me, with the exception of the whole milk, I had all of the ingredients in the house, so that was definitely a bonus.
Let's start with the Khova:
1.5 liters (6 cups) whole milk
Bring the milk to a boil in a deep, heavy-bottom nonstick pan. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer the milk, stirring occasionally until the milk completely thickens to something that looks like the texture of ricotta cheese. This should take about 1.5 hours. Set aside to cool.
1 cup khova
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of baking soda
oil, for frying
1 cup water
1 cup sugar, honey, or agave, or a combo of the 3
Mix khova, all-purpose flour, and baking soda, and a little water (start with a tablespoon). Knead this mixture gently to form a dough. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. This is a good time to heat up your oil for frying.
Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup. Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the syrup to simmer for 10 minutes, until thread consistency has been reached. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Roll small balls of the dough. You can make either round balls, or little ovals - it's your choice. Fry in the hot oil for a few minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. After the balls are all cooked, put them in the sugar syrup, and allow to soak for 3 to 4 hours (or be like me, and wait for 20 minutes and then dig in.)
1/3 cup of basmati or other white rice (I used jasmine because it's what I had in the house)
1 liter milk
1 teaspoon clarified butter
4 cardamom pods
1/4 to 1/3 cup honey (depending on how sweet you want the pudding)
2 tablespoons golden raisins (I skipped these)
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly roasted (I used way more of these)
Wash the rice. Over medium heat, heat the clarified butter. Add the rice and stir until it turns translucent and a light pink or tan color; about 10 minutes.
Stir in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour until the milk reduces to about a third of what you started out with.
Peel the cardamom (this was seriously the hardest part of the entire recipe). Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom. Stir in the cardamom, honey, raisins and almonds. Serve warm, at room temp, or cool.