Kesar Kheer (Sweet Saffron Rice Pudding)

Kesar Kheer (Sweet Saffron Rice Pudding)

In preparation for Mother's Day, I thought I'd share a family favourite which is always a hit no matter the occasion. My mum makes the most amazing, creamy kheer so my present to her was a little twist on the very dish she loves serving to others. I believe it's the slight stain from strands of kesar is what makes it noticeably different from the average rice pudding. Oh, and the ghee of course!

Servings: 8-10 dessert bowls
Prep+cooking time: 1hr


  • 1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked for at least half an hour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup single cream
  • 5-6 tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • several strands of saffron steeped in 1/2 cup milk (I find that 5 or 6 strands will stain the rice just enough)
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • crushed pistachios, pomegranates and dried edible roses to garnish


1) Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes before rinsing and draining. In a pan, melt ghee over a medium flame and add rice until it is roasted. This should take no more than 10 minutes.  

2) In a separate pan, boil the milk on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Keep half a cup of the milk aside and soak the saffron strands for a few minutes before returning the milk to the boiling mixture. 

3) Add the roasted rice to the boiling milk with sugar, cream and cardamom pods. Lower the flame, stir and allow to thicken for 30-35 minutes. The heat must be low at this point because two things can quickly go wrong: the milk can curdle and the basmati rice can overcook. We want to avoid both!

4) Once you are satisfied with the consistency, remove from heat and serve in your finest bowls. Kheer is traditionally garnished with nuts and sometimes a sprinkle of rosewater but I went for pomegranates, pistachios and edible roses.