This beautiful Indian dessert is a favourite dish made at Diwali, but it can be made at any time. It is quite wonderful, an Indian take on a rice pudding. One of the beautiful traditions of Diwali is the making and sharing of sweet things.
Chaler Payesh | Bengali Rice Kheer
Cuisine: Indian (Bengali)
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: several hours
Serves: 4 people
1.5 – 2 l Milk
100 g Basmati or Ambemohar Rice
1.5 tspn Ghee
100 g Sugar
1.5 Tblspn Cashew nuts
1.5 Tblspn Raisins
3 – 4 green cardamom pods
1 – 2 Indian Bay leaf (Tej Pata)
Place the milk in a large heavy saucepan, bring to the boil over a low flame, and allow to boil slowly until it is 3/4 of its original volume or less.
Melt the ghee and add it to the rice and mix it well through the rice.
When the milk has reduced enough, add the rice and cook on high flame, stirring often.
When the rice is cooked and the mixture is thickening, add the sugar, salt, cracked cardamom pods and Indian bay leaf.
Stir until the sugar dissolves, and allow to continue to cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the cashew nuts and raisins. Stir them through, remove the bay leaf, and allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes.
Serve hot or cold. You can garnish the rice with raisins, cashew nuts or fresh or dry fruits.
As you reduce milk by boiling for an hour or two, you get the most sweet liquid – condensed milk, but so very different to the tinned condensed milk that we can buy.
The recipe uses Indian Bay leaf, tej pata. This is not the same as the western bay leaf. If you cannot lay your hands on tej pata, the best substitute is a cardamom leaf, though these are hard to find. Leave it out if cannot locate tej pata or cardamom leaf.
The rice needs to be a sweeter rice, like Basmati or Ambemohar Rice.