By Renu Jain Chandarana, food writer
Kheer for the Soul
In the deep deep cold
When the chill hits your core,
You act brave and bold. But you can’t take any more
Of this bitter winter that keeps you at home
Feeling sluggish, feeling stunned. At the nipping chill to your bones.
Leaving your extremities numb
Alas, there is a clear solution
It might break your New Year’s resolution
It requires spices, milk, sugar, and syrup
A guaranteed thermal pick-me-up
I have the recipe right here,
For some delectable Semiya Kheer
Sometimes a little creative corny humour can get me through any slump. This slump is winter. We are all experiencing it here in Canada and many parts of the USA. Frigid temperatures, blowing wind that freezes your nose hairs, freezing rain and driving conditions that make me clench my jaw praying I won’t spin out or slide into someone. Don’t even get me started on flight delays.
I have found this cold to be a challenge. I forget that this is nature doing its thing. I must adapt and find my little joys, so I turn to food (and my corny poems.) Let’s remember what winter is supposed to be all about – cold, crisp air outside, and warm cozy feeling inside. We seek comfort in our food to keep us warm and healthy. Foods like soups, stews, curries, steamed rice, and hot buttered breads, a salad (here and there) plus warm and inviting porridges and puddings.
I love making kheer (rice pudding) with leftover rice, but this time, I used semiya the other traditional variation of kheer. Semiya is a wheat flour vermicelli noodle that you can find in the ethnic food aisle of your grocery store. It can be made savoury or sweet and is a noodle used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. It’s golden brown in colour and thinner and lighter than the Southeast Asian rice noodles that you find in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. In fact, semiya does not require any boiling in water or draining off which makes it perfect for one-pot meals. It is quick to cook with and has a special nutty flavour that adds a comforting earthiness to a dish.
Most traditional semiya kheer recipes cook it the same way. The differences lie in what other ingredients and flavors you add to the pudding. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it as sweet as you want, as thick as you want, add as many nuts or add raisins – choose your own flavours! I dished out the kheer in individual mason jars so I can grab one and pop it in the microwave easily. Honestly, this kheer tastes great warm, room temp or cold from the fridge. You choose – but for now, I choose warm. My kids enjoyed eating this in the car after school as a special snack on a cold day. I hope it warms you up and brings you a smile as you brave this grueling winter!
SEMIYAN KHEER (VERMICELLI PUDDING)
2 Tbsps butter (or ghee or non-dairy butter)
1 Cup semiya (uncooked wheat vermicelli noodles)
1-2 tsp ground cardamom
1 Pinch of ground cloves
3 Tbsps ground almonds (or 1-2 Tbsps slivered nuts of your choice)
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Cups (plus more set aside) milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk*
3 Tbsps raisins (Optional)
- In a medium-sized pot on medium heat, melt the butter.
- Break up the semiya vermicelli noodles into 2-3 inch long pieces.
- Turn the heat to low and add the noodles to the butter tossing around until the noodles are coated and getting nice and toasted (they turn slightly reddish brown – careful not to burn them.)
- Add the cardamom and cloves to your taste. Half now and more at the end, if you prefer.
- Add the ground almonds (or slivered nuts.)
- Add the milk and simmer on low stirring frequently until everything is well mixed and the noodles absorb the milk and the mixture thickens nicely. About 5-10 minutes (depending on your pot and stove.)
- Add raisins if you like.
- Add maple syrup to your taste (I would use less if you add raisins.)
- Check the consistency of the kheer. Is it how you like it? Is it too runny? You can add a handful of more noodles and simmer a few minutes longer. Is it too thick? Add a little more milk and stir until you get the desired consistency.**
- Dish out into bowls and serve warm garnished with berries or slivered nuts.
- Keeps in fridge for a few days.
* I used half unsweetened vanilla almond milk and half 2% cow’s milk. I loved the subtle vanilla flavour and the lightness the almond milk brought. Play with your favorite flavours and see what you like!
** I live in a very dry climate so I typically need to add more liquid to my recipes. My leftover kheer soaked up all the milk and I added more milk over top when I reheated it to serve leftovers.
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