June 5, 2012

Back to my comfort zone with my comfort food - "Chaula Kheeri"

What would your realm of comfort be, once you are back home after a long period of absence? Beyond any doubt, I know what mine is! So being back in my haven after a 3 week trip both for work and fun, I knew exactly what I wanted. A brief stint in the kitchen and I got back my dilapidated energy level. Easy and effectively consistent remedy for my home parched soul ;)

Past few weeks have been very hectic with a research trip intermingled with a short outing with friends. The sparse number of posts have been a testimony to that fact. I felt guilty all this while being away from this space all along, while trying my best to focus on the trip at hand. I guess very soon (!!) I will learn how to leave this baby aside for a well deserved break. Soon..or so I hope!

My long absence from home entailed that  I have been on store bought/ restaurant bought food for the past 3 weeks. That's quite a bit for me to take. So by the end of the trip, I was literally dreaming about home-cooked simple meals. Don't get me wrong, peeps! I love eating out especially when returning to some favorite restaurants for tried and tested recipes or even for trying out new ones. But taking in 3 meals-a-day for 21 days gets a whole lot for me to digest!

So, when I got back to my "sacred space" aka the kitchen, I went straight to cooking rice. Rice is a staple food of people from Eastern India, so seeking comfort in rice for me is like stating the obvious. The first dish that I devoured on is a simple, soulful and heart warming bowl of rice pudding enriched with rose water, a pinch of saffron and lots of halved cashews. It could very well be prepared without the fancy trio - but I tried this no-holds-barred version for some self-indulgence. Before detailing its preparation, it is necessary to point out that this is a commonly prepared dessert in Odisha. Be it during any auspicious occasion or for just regular meals, its simple procedure and the use of minimal ingredients makes it my go-to dessert recipe.

"Chaula Kheeri"

Smooth,creamy, lightly sweetened rice pudding flavored with rose water, saffron and cardamom powder highlighted with the crunch of ghee-roasted cashews is one of the most common desserts in Odisha. "Chaula" in Odia refers to rice and I have specified it so as to differentiate among the various other kinds of pudding that exist in the culinary realm.


1 C Rice ( I use Basmati, any other rice such as Arborio would serve the same purpose)
5 C Whole milk
2 C Heavy whipping cream
2 Bay leaves
4-5 T Sugar
1/4 C Halved Cashews- Roasted in ghee/butter till golden brown.
1 tsp Cardamom powder
1 tsp Rose water
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of salt


1. Soak the rice for 15-20 minutes. Wash it thoroughly before adding in to the milk which gets rid of unwanted starch which usually is the cause for sticky blob of rice.

2. Boil milk in a pot and once it starts boiling,add in the soaked and washed rice and the bay leaves. The bay leaves impart a rustic earthiness to the dish.Keep stirring continuously to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom.In about 12-15 mins, check the rice to see if its firm to the bite.

3. In the meantime, roast the cashews with 1/4th T ghee/ butter till golden brown.

4. Once the rice seems firm to the bite, pour in cream and add in the sugar, a pinch of salt and cashews. Keep stirring till the rice gets completely cooked about 10 minutes.Take it off from the stove when done and then add in the rose water, saffron dissolved in 2 tsp of cold milk and sprinkle it with cardamom powder.

Handy notes:

Soaking rice before-hand is crucial to lessening the cooking time and making the pudding very light instead of a dense mass of rice in milk.

- When I made this the first time, I made the mistake of adding sugar and cream along with the rice. This resulted in uncooked rice that separated out from the milk. Due to thicker consistency of the cooking liquid, the rice could not cook properly and hence the disaster.
So, cook the rice to the texture you want - some like it soft and mushy while some like their rice grains separate, and then only add in the cream, sugar and the fancy stuff.

- The rice soaks in milk even after taken off the stove, so to manage the consistency of the pudding make sure that there's more milk than you originally desire when you take the pudding off the stove.

- For a typical Odia style pudding, you could opt out of the cashews, rose water and the saffron but the cardamom powder is a must. Its that essential spicy hint to this creamy dessert.

So as I devour this creamy delicacy, I would like to leave with a promise that I will try out some of the "famous" dishes that I tried out during my traveling spree with my spin to it. Watch out this space,for there's lot more updates to come!

Happy Tuesday!
P.s: I am sending this recipe to:
 - "Guest Quest" hosted by Amina
 -  "This recipes goes to Sara's Event Cooking with Love Series hosted at Torviewtoronto". 
- Prathibha for "EP Series-Herbs and spices"-Basil and Cardamom
- Pradnya and Gayatri for WTML event for June.
 - "Show me your hits:Rice" hosted by Sangee and Vardhini.


  1. Nice one... Thanks for linking it up..

  2. just love odiya chauka kheeri...
    looks delicious...

  3. looks wonderful lovely flavours thank you for linking to the cooking with love aunt event

  4. Thanks to all the event hosts!
    All your lovely comments make my day :-)

  5. Yummy kheer. Thx for linking.



Each kind, encouraging word gives me the impetus to put more into this space, so thanks a lot for browsing through and stopping by to say a word! :)