If you looking for a quick but creamy, silky and luscious saffron flavored dessert, this is it.
I cannot say that the sabudana kheer is something I grew up with. In fact I never had it till I made it myself. While the Tapioca Kheer/Pudding is a must for special and religious occasions in some parts of India, it is not traditional in my part of the country where I grew up. The only form I have seen the Tapioca pearls cooked, is the savory pilaf kind. Besides the predominance of rice pudding in West Bengal leaves no spot for anything else.
While the east coast got buried in snow, we have been having the most unusual spring like weather in the midst of winter – warm, breezy and some heady sunny days before we become victims of the ice again. But we had the loveliest times outside and inside with windows open with the sun and breeze streaming in the warmth and sweet like a baby’s breath.
I started enjoying the tapioca pearls in custards, esp. mango custard, which is delicious. And now I have really fallen in love with the Tapioca pudding.
The Tapioca pearls are beautiful! I got these tiny Thai Tapioca Pearls and these had been so easy to work with. There was no need to soak them for a long time, neither did I have to let it sit and fluff for as long as the large pearls.
The texture of the pearls add to the creaminess of the dish, gives it a beautiful luminous gloss and the pudding is unbelievably quick and easy to make.
Indian pudding without saffron and nuts is unthinkable, so I added lots of both. With the use of some good saffron and generous use of it you will get a deep yellow color for the pudding. The longer the pudding matures, the more the flavor and color of the saffron intensifies. (The pale yellow here you see turned orangish yellow a day after).
This time I used the Chironji/Charoli (tiny little nuts which tastes almost like almonds, but in little bites) for the very first time. If you are not familiar with the , this is what they look like.
Charoli are tiny almond-flavoured dried seeds of a bush called Buchanania lanzan, which is cultivated across India, primarily in the northwest. After the hard shell is cracked, the stubby seed within is as soft as a pine nut.They are commonly used in sweets in India. However, they are also ground into powders for thickening savory sauces and flavoring batters, and stewed into rich, meaty kormas…Charoli seeds are used in the Ayurveda and Unani system of medicine. – (Wiki)
Few ingredients, a little bit of time, lot of aroma and and a sensual dessert.
Sabudana Kheer: Tapioca Pudding with Saffron and Nuts
Ingredients: (serves 3-4)
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon small sized tapioca pearls (the Asian small pearl works best for the pudding)
- 3 cups milk, whole milk (* See Notes)
- scant 1/2 cup sugar
- a big pinch of very good quality saffron
- 4-5 small green cardamoms, seeds ground
- 5 tablespoons slivered almonds, or charoli/chironji
- almond flakes or chopped pistachio for garnish
- Use any kind of milk, or a combination of milk and cream. If you desire a creamy pudding, use a combination of milk and cream, or all half and half.
- If you like a pudding of thicker consistency, use less milk for this amount of Tapioca pearls.
- To make it vegan/lactose free, use Almond Milk. The flavor is really good with the flavor of almond.
Crush the cardamom seeds (discard the skin of the cardamom) and the saffron to a powder with a mortar and pestle.
Toast the nuts very lightly.
Wash the tapioca pearls; soak the pearls for about 5-8 minutes and drain them. Set it aside and let it sit for about 15 -20 minutes. They will plump a little and dry off, and will not be sticky. (If you are not using the small pearls, the Tapioca pearls will be needed to be soaked a little bit longer; drain and let the big pearls plump for about an hour)
In a thick bottomed pot, bring the milk to a slow boil at low to medium heat. Keep stirring the milk to prevent it from sticking at the bottom of the pot and scorching. Add the ground cardamom and saffron to the milk.
Simmer the milk for about 15 minutes while constantly stirring. Add the toasted nuts and tapioca pearls to the pot and cook with the milk till they plump and softens. This should not take longer than 5 minutes. You will see them bigger, swollen and kind of translucent. Press a pearl between your fingers; the center should be cooked too. Now add the sugar and the slivered almonds. Simmer, while stirring till the sugar is dissolved. Switch off the heat and cool.
Chill the pudding till ready to serve.
Garnish with nuts and serve chilled.
and enjoy a bowlful of bliss!