Rice pudding used to totally gross me out. I mean, come on, I’m Chinese. Rice should be:
- Cooked into congee
Cooked with milk and sugar? Eeeeeeewwwww!!!
But my tastes started to change some years ago, and now I love rice pudding, especially South Asian style rice pudding, kheer. Last week, while at an Indian restaurant enjoying a bowl, it occurred to me this dessert could be probably churned into a delectable ice cream.
After doing some research, I realized there many, many different methods and variations of making kheer. Should I use cream, milk, coconut milk, or sweetened condensed milk? Full fat or reduced fat? Basmati rice or regular long grained rice? Raw or cooked? If raw, pulse the rice first or not? Will frying the rice in ghee first really make a difference? Saffron or not? Pistachios, cashews or almonds? In the absence of an obvious go-to recipe, I developed a recipe for kheer that draws from numerous recipes found online and with ingredients that I had on hand at home.
For my first attempt at making kheer, it turned out quite well — sweet, creamy, and wonderfully aromatic. Cardamom is what gives kheer its unique, distinctive taste — if you’re a fan, you might want to use an extra pod or two into the recipe.
When the kheer was churned into ice cream, it developed quite an interesting texture. Even though the recipe uses milk instead of cream, the starchiness of the rice made the ice cream quite thick and creamy. The broken grains of rice added a bit of a chew and the pistachios a nice crunch.
You’re best off serving this ice cream shortly after churning and with only a quick chill in the freezer. If you chill it overnight, it will freeze up rock solid due to the low fat content. (This is solvable of course by letting the ice cream warm up on the counter or in the fridge… but who has the patience!!) Also, this ice cream has almost no overrun, so you might want to double the recipe if you want to make a full litre.
Kheer Ice Cream (Makes about 0.5 L)
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup long-grained rice
3 cardamom pods, crushed
Small pinch of saffron threads
1/4 cup white sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped pistachios