What memories does Diwali conjure up for you??
The sound of firecrackers mingles with melodious, Deepavali songs and the hustle and bustle of throngs of people dressed in their holiday best as they head to visit friends and relatives to wish them the good tidings of the season. The aroma of sandalwood mingles with the unmistakable aroma of cardamom, nutmeg and every aromatic spice imaginable as every household scrambles to put the choicest of delicacies on holiday tables adorned with the earthen oil lamps that are the hallmark of this festival of lights. And who could every forget the gorgeous rangolis with their vivid colors and exquisite designs vying for attention with the equally colorful paper lanterns that welcome every guest that steps over the threshold.
Diwali, the festival of lights is one of the biggest, and most eagerly awaited festivals celebrated by Hindus the world over. It conjures up vivid memories of my grandmother pulling out all the stops during the festive season, as she expertly made jalebis, ladoos, and other luscious delicacies. On Dhanatrayodashi (Dhanteras), I remember how all the women in our house would have the traditional oil bath after anointing themselves with the fragrant, turmeric and sandal wood paste. What was striking about this age-old ritual was it was done in the evening at sun down, after which we would don our festive clothes, create beautiful rangolis on the verandah, before visiting neighbors and friends to exchange sweets. This rich tapestry of events from childhood have been deeply etched in my memory, and includes this heirloom recipe that I inherited from my grandmother, who was an absolutely amazing cook!
All the pleasure, none of the guilt! This is a recipe for kheer, which is a kind of pudding made with whole milk and sugar in which some kind of a grain such as vermicelli is slow cooked until the milk reduces to the consistency of a rich and creamy pudding. I have created a heart-healthy version using a whole grain (bulgur), reduced fat milk and by reducing the sugar content from the traditional version by approximately a third. And yet it has the same creamy texture and rich mouth-feel that is reminiscent of the traditional version. So go ahead-dig in and enjoy! A very Happy Diwali and Happy and Healthy New Year to you all!
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 2-3 whole cardamoms, crushed
- 1/2 cup whole grain bulgur
- Pinch of salt
- 2.5 cups reduced fat milk (2% milk)
- A few strands of saffron ( optional)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg or to taste
- 1 teaspoon each, slivered almonds and pistachios, for garnish
- In a thick bottomed pan, add the ghee. Add the crushed cardamoms and bulgur, sauté until bulgur is lightly toasted and fragrant, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Place the bulgur in the pan of a pressure cooker, add slightly more than a 1/4 cup of water to the bulgur and pressure cook until soft*. (3-4 whistles).
- Alternatively, if you do not have a pressure cooker, transfer the bulgur-cardamom mixture to another saucepan, and add a pinch of salt. Follow instructions on the package, adding the appropriate amount of water to cook the bulgur on the stove top until soft and cooked through. (Typically about 2 to 2.5 cups of water per cup of bulgur).
- While the bulgur is cooking, bring 2.5 cups of milk to boil in the same pot that was used to sauté the bulgur. As soon as the milk starts to boil, turn down the heat and allow to simmer on medium low heat. Adjust the heat to keep the milk simmering vigorously without boiling over. Stir the milk frequently to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- Add the powdered cardamom, and saffron threads
- Let it simmer in this way for 10-15 minutes, until it reduces from 2.5 cups to slightly under 2 cups.
- Add the cooked bulgur and stir for 3-4 minutes
- Add the sugar and cook for another 3 minutes or so on low heat, stirring until it reduces to about a cup and a half, stirring frequently.
- Pour the kheer (pudding ) into a bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm temperature. A skin**will form which may be stirred back in, or removed if needed.
- Garnish with the almonds and pistachios and serve warm or wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate and serve cold.
* For best results, please ensure that the bulgur is cooked through and soft. If it has a “bite” to it, that may be acceptable, but it should not be too grainy. You may also use an Insta Pot if you have one to ensure this whole grain is cooked through.
** This kheer tends to thicken quickly over time. You may stir in a small amount of milk into the pudding as desired, if the consistency becomes too thick.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is strictly for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or Registered Dietitian for recommendations tailored to your unique needs.