KESARI KHEER AUR POODA (SAFFRON INFUSED RICE PUDDING WITH SWEETENED WHOLE WHEAT PANCAKES)
Monsoon is welcomed in the state of Punjab – with Kheer i.e. milk and rice pudding. There goes a saying in Punjabi “Je saawan kheer na khaadi aa, kyon jeena ae apradhiya” which translates to – “one who hasn’t eaten kheer during the monsoon is a sinner and has no reason to be alive!!” So much is the importance of this luxurious and creamy dessert in Punjab J
Traditionally, during the monsoon, this queen of desserts is served with the ‘Pooda’ which is a sweetened pancake made with whole wheat flour. Whenever I make this dish, my mind transports me back to my childhood. Mom used to get up early in the morning, keep the kheer ready before we all woke up, cooled it and by the time we got up she would be ready to make the poodas. Aah! those good ol’days… Personally, I prefer having a piping hot pooda with chilled kheer. I think the contrasting temperature and textures of these two dishes (kheer being creamy and cold; pooda being soft centered with crispy edges and hot) is the ultimate way to enjoy the monsoon!
This creamy dessert is a favourite with children and grown-ups alike. Milk is slowly simmered along with rice till it is reduced to half and achieves a creamy consistency. I would want to categorise this dessert under 'comfort food'. Since it is loaded with calories (pooda being sugary and shallow fried) perhaps for this reason, it is earmarked to be eaten during the monsoon; though I don’t mind eating it on a cold wintery morning too!!
It is simple dessert with very basic ingredients and is made richer with the addition of dry fruits. I prefer it the royal way, i.e. by infusing it with saffron. Its other variant is the Elaichi Wali Kheer i.e. Cardamom flavoured Rice Pudding.