Calcutta kheer


Most people lose weight after a journey in India. I came back fatter as a result of over-indulging in the famous Bengali sweets. The markets and sweet shops in Calcutta were full of them and those I liked best were made from reduced milk, flavoured with cardamom and saffron. But these sweets are laborious to make, so I was pleased to find one that is easy - the luscious Indian rice pudding, kheer.


  • 6-8 cardamom pods
  • 550 ml Jersey milk
  • 170 g evaporated milk
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 rounded tablespoon long-grain rice
  • 25 g flaked almonds or pistachios
  • 1 rounded tablespoon soft light brown sugar
  • 3-4 teaspoons rose water


Lightly crush the cardamom pods and tie up in a piece of muslin. Put this into a heavy-based saucepan with the milk, evaporated milk and saffron. Heat the milk and add the rice. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer very gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, lightly toast the nuts.

Take out and discard the bag of cardamom. Stir the brown sugar, rose water and three-quarters of the toasted nuts into the pudding.

Pour the kheer into small individual dishes, or into one larger serving bowl. Leave to cool, then sprinkle the remaining nuts on top and refrigerate until ready to serve.