Indian rice pudding (Khir)

Again I disappeared.  It’s been a busy few months.  This is for 2 reasons.  First of all- I can call myself a freelance writer now, because since my last post I’ve been published in a magazine, and also have a second article coming out in September.  Not food writing- my inability to post a recipe with hard and fast rules and proportions would leave much to be desired in a world where recipes have to be tried out until perfect before publishing.  I’m trying to dabble in popular science writing, but the articles I’ve written so far are geared more towards instruction and consumer awareness.  It’s a start.

Also, my NaniJi- my maternal grandmother- was in the hospital for almost 2 months.  7 weeks to be exact, and nearly 5 of those were in the intensive care unit.  I didn’t hear her voice for over a month, despite visiting her everyday.  She had a breathing tub down her throat, for about 2 weeks, and during that time she was unconscious.  I thought she wasn’t coming back, and all I could do was kick myself for not spending more time with her, asking her more questions, listening to more of her stories.  And she’s a great story teller.  After the breathing tube was removed, she had a tracheotomy done, and still couldn’t talk for nearly a further 3 weeks.  But, she was conscious, and could write out (in Hindi) her demands and needs.  She’d write hilarious things to us like, “I did not poo, but I farted 12 times” after she had made an attempt to use the bathroom.  My family may be a little too close, perhaps, but I’m lucky to have them all.

So, my grandmother is home.  We are happy, so happy.  She’s weak, but when she is stronger I am going to wring every story and bit of wisdom I can from her.  And I’m also going to get her and her son- my schizophrenic, but kind and well-meaning uncle- to teach me how to properly read and write Hindi.  I can get by, but very, very slowly.  It’s painful for my family, I’m sure…like watching a 6 year old sound out words in a story book.

In honour of my grandmother, and the joyful eating of sweets that comes with happy occasions in an Indian household, I’m going to post a loosey-goosey recipe for khir.  Indian rice pudding.  My grandmother used to make the best rice pudding, for she’s been too weak over the last couple of years to do so.  I hope she’ll be willing to sit at the kitchen and tell me a story while instructing me exactly how to make her version of khir.  Because it really is the best.

To approximately 1 litre of milk, add 1/2 cup of rice.  Now comes the hard part.  Over a simmering heat, stir and stir and stir, until the rice is cooked.  Your arms may get tired.  If you want to eat khir, you will know this is worth the effort.  Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat.  Add about 1/4 cup of chopped nuts and raisins, and a couple tbsps of sugar (adjust to taste).  Also add 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Let cool.  Eat!  Should serve about 8 people.

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