If there could be one sweet you would eat anytime no matter what would it be?
For me it has to be kheer. Something about the mix of rice with creamy sweet milk makes kheer (or phirni) so comforting. I especially love when it is sprinkled with nuts and forms that thick film or malai on top. Which I know is also controversial since many hate the skin that forms on top of rice pudding. For me I love it! The thicker the skin the better! Just scoop it all off and give it to me! Yummm!
What is matka kheer?
‘Matka’ literally translates into clay pot. It needs to be a clay pot that is safe for using in cooking. These can be found at asian grocers in most major cities here (I’ve seen them around in the larger asian grocers in the GTA), but if you can’t find a clay pot, no worries it wont change the flavour too much to use a regular bowl either. But anyone who has had a matka kheer or matka kulfi will swear that the matka only enhances the flavour of the sweet dish it is served in. I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on some matka dishes.
The Matka adds a subtle earthy flavour to the kheer, and it just feels so authentic to eat it from the matka. Also the true way to eat it would be with your hands, not a spoon, so you can use your fingers to wipe the matka clean!
Easy Pakistani Rice Pudding
Kheer is essentially the Pakistani version of rice pudding. Normally flavoured quite simply with cardamom, and maybe a pinch of saffron if you are feeling fancy. The ingredients list is quite simple. You just need a bit of rice, milk, sugar and a little bit of time to let it all come together and thicken.
I even made this dairy free with oat milk and it worked out great, except I will say that the thickness and creaminess that comes from using real milk is very different. So if you can eat dairy, this is one where I would suggest to stick to the original recipe.
Matka Kheer (Firni)
- 1/4 cup basmati rice
- 1 tbsp oil or ghee
- 1-2 green cardamom pods lightly crushed
- 4 cups whole milk (1 litre) – can use dairy free milk too
- 3-4 tbsp sugar (50g)
- 1 tbsp rose water
- pinch saffron
- chopped nuts, for topping (almonds or pistachios recommended)
Soak the Rice
- In a medium bowl, rinse the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Allow to soak in water at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Drain and continue to grind or cook.
- Optional – If you want to have a smoother rice pudding, grind the rice with a few tablespoons of water until it forms a paste before cooking.
Cook the Kheer
- In a large saucepan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp oil and the drained rice and 1-2 cardamom pods.
- Stir to allow the rice and cardamom to toast, about 1-2 minutes, and then add the 4 cups of milk. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer. Allow the kheer to simmer for at least 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure the bottom does not burn. For an extra thicker pudding simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- When the kheer has reached your desired thickness, add 3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust the amount of sugar to your liking), pinch of saffron, and 1 tbsp rose water. Stir to combine and adjust for sweetness. Remember that it will taste less sweet when it is cooled down.
- Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish(es).
- If you want to avoid any skin or film from forming on top add a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the kheer so it is just touching the surface. Keep this on while it cools to avoid the skin from forming. If not, sprinkle with chopped nuts and allow to come to room temperature then chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
- Just before serving you can add more chopped nuts. Enjoy!