By Michelle Peters-Jones
“In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”
– Gautama Buddha.
India is an amalgamation of cultures and religions, and one of the smaller communities in the country is the Buddhist community. Indian Buddhists celebrate Vesaka or Buddha Purnima on May 4th this year – different Buddhist countries celebrate it on different days – but it does have to be on a full moon. The holiday celebrates not just the birthday, but also the enlightenment and death of the Buddha and is Buddhism’s holy day.
Buddhism is practiced by almost three hundred million people in the world, and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. He was a sage in Eastern India, and is known to have achieved enlightenment under a bodhi tree in Gaya (in the Bihar region of India), now known as Bodh Gaya. Buddhism, like other religions, also teaches peace, tolerance, kindness and compassion. Buddhists believe that life is in constant flux and that through good deeds we can change the course of life. Buddhism believes that we get what we give, and the principle of karma.
Most Buddhists do not eat meat as part of the religion, and many are vegetarians. In India, Buddhists eat a similar vegetarian diet to other religions.
On Buddha Purnima, Buddhists celebrate by making a classic Indian kheer and sharing it with people less fortunate than themselves.
In this post, I share a recipe for Indian style kheer. I’ve made a few changes to the classic Indian recipe, and you can read more about these changes here. But the taste of this kheer, with delicate flavours of saffron and rosewater are traditionally Indian, and are a fitting treat for this holiday.
Recipe For Kheer
1 tablespoon ghee or unscented oil
Seeds from 6 green cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and pestle
¼ cup short grain rice (I used carnaroli risotto rice)
3 cups whole milk
½ – ¾ cup sugar
½ cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons rosewater
Large handful unsalted pistachios, to garnish
A large pinch of saffron threads (optional, see note)
1.Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy pot, and add the crushed cardamom seeds. Gently stir for about 30 seconds, then add the rice and stir to coat it with the ghee and cardamom.
2.Toast the rice for about 1 minute, then add the whole milk and 1/2 cup sugar. Cook, stirring hard, on a low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 2 – 3 minutes, then taste and add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar if you like your kheer sweeter.
3.Bring the kheer mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 – 45 minutes, stirring ever so often, until the mixture is thick and creamy
4.Stir in the whipping cream and cook very gently for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the rosewater.
5.Take off the heat and serve warm or cold, garnished with a few chopped pistachios.
Note: As a variation, you can also add saffron to the kheer. Stir in the saffron with the milk, and proceed as directed. You can also use saffron as a garnish. Whisk in a few strands of saffron in a tablespoon of warm milk, and swirl on top of each bowl of kheer.
For more traditional recipes try this recipe for kale chane .
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