I have an affinity for the layered, exotic flavors intrinsic in Indian food — heady mixes of Garam Masala or curry, the darkly- scented lushness of cardamom, coriander and caraway and the vibrant colors of turmeric, saffron and red chilis — these warm me, belly and soul. But it wasn’t always so.
I grew up tasting Italian, Chinese, Mexican, German, French and American style dishes, home-cooked, lovingly by my mother. While this is much more variety than some (like my husband) grew up with, it still excluded many kinds of food that my son is growing up with the tastes and smells of, such as Indian, Korean, Middle Eastern, Greek, Japanese, Soul Food, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Thai and just about anything else we can get our hands on.
The point is, I never tasted Indian food as a child, so the spices used regularly in these dishes, tasted, fittingly, foreign to my tastebuds. They had a depth that my palate was not yet able to decipher. So at 24, when a dear friend of mine, who was also a vegetarian began telling me how great Indian food was, I was interested — but reluctant. The smells were strong, oniony and sweaty, I was unsure of the tofu curry dish he had whipped up but I gave it try. It was, in a word — icky.
No disrespect to my friend, but he wasn’t a culinary wizard and that dish contained improperly drained tofu (bitter) and way too much curry, as well as carrots and peas that were still — crisp. I didn’t try Indian food again until I was 31 and backpacking throughout Western Europe. Sick of bangers and mash, roast and veg, jacket potatoes and the Ploughman’s served up at every pub throughout England and Scotland, I decided to give Indian food another go. No better place (except India, of course) to dive into the sensual flavors of Indian food, than the UK.
Unwittingly(and thankfully), I just happened to pick a restaurant that is considered one of the Top Ten Indian food restaurants in Scotland for my second taste — Pataka.
Pataka Indian and Bengali Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland is unlike any other Indian restaurant you may have been too, mostly because of its odd choice of decor, which is completely resplendent in Glasgow native, Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s artwork, with beautifully carved wooden booths and high back chairs. But it was the food served there that made me a believer. If you’re ever in Scotland, I highly recommend stopping by Pataka.
The dish I’m making here is based upon Kheer (also known as Payasam or Payesh depending on the region it’s being served in) which is a loose pudding, traditionally made with rice and sometimes vermicelli (I like to use shredded coconut in place of vermicelli.) It’s often served during or at the end of celebratory meals and accompanied by raisins, saffron (for color), cashews, pistachios or almonds. To me, the milky richness and sweet, dusky flavor of this dish makes it great for ending a spicy meal, as it both calms and revives the mouth and tongue after doing battle with the heated flavors of well-seasoned Indian food.
The beauty of making Kheer at home is that you can also eat it for breakfast the next morning, a meal time that I always feel speaks of comfort to begin with. For additional health benefits (and 5g fiber 6g protein), I decided to put a spin on this soul-satisfying dessert.
Since the Grande Whole Grains from Bob’s Red Mill are whole grains ranging from wheat, rice and barley to oats, buckwheat and sesame seeds you will have some additional thickening, due to the continued absorption of liquid, making for a slightly thicker pudding (this is why the arrowroot powder/cornstarch is less than a TBsp for a pudding.) This also means that the grains need to be pre-cooked before entering your pudding batter.
The balanced flavor of California Olive Ranch’s Miller’s Blend, with its fruit and spice, pairs perfectly in this toothsome treat.
Whole Grain Kheer (India Rice Pudding)
- 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Grande Whole Grains (cooked)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp butter (or ghee)
- 1tbsp California Olive Ranch Miller’s Blend Olive Oil
- 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 shredded coconut
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Powder (or cornstarch) to desired thickness
Follow the basic cooking instructions on the package for BRB’s Grande Whole Grains.
Once done cooking remove from the burner and leave the lid on as you begin to assemble the other ingredients — this will ensure the grains continue to soften, as they absorb any leftover liquid.
Combine 1.5 cups of the milks, brown sugar, salt and COR Miller’s Blend into a pot and bring to a boil.
Add the BRB Grande Whole Grains and return just to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in coconut (and/or raisins, dried cherries or dried apricots cut into small pieces, if desired), allowing it to cook uncovered for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. The grains will still retain some of their chewiness but should be cooked through and quite a bit softer now.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining 1/2 cup of combined milks and 1-2 tsp of arrowroot powder.
Remove 1/4 cup of the hot grain mixture, whisking it, little by little into the egg/milk mixture.
Once incorporated, pour the egg mixture into the rest of the hot grains, whisking to mix it quickly and keep the egg from scrambling.
Cook, stirring constantly, for one to two minutes or until to desired thick and creamy consistency.
Remove from heat, stirring in butter, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon.
You can serve this dish warm, room temp or cold ~ it’s delicious no matter what but my favorite is when it’s set but still warm. Happy Eating!
Makes 6 servings.
A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway
Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page. Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch. That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!
For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!
- A Tasty and Heathy New Year Challenge with Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch (groovyfoody.wordpress.com)