“I haven’t had the rice pudding of my life today. But I guess I lost that opportunity with the end of my childhood.”
William Rice

The magical combination of the holiday season & winter gives rise to many rich dessert making opportunities. The nip in the air makes it all the more enjoyable, & dare I say, somewhat guilt free. This is an indulgent pudding we enjoy once in a while…an eggless Indian rice pudding, a recipe I have concocted over the years, & often make on the go.

The quality of rice changes from time to time, but the pudding is quite forgiving. Add some milk if it is too thick, or a teenie bit of cornflour if it’s the other way. It’s rich, it’s eggless &, it’s very satisfying. The saffron version is particularly indulgent, & this year, my lad sprung a surprise on me. The true Gemini that he is, he decided he LOVES the pudding. Last year, no amount of coaxing helped; funnily enough, he even refused to taste it. Evolving tastes or refining tastes…whatever… life is simpler with a single dessert option sometimes!

The other night, we had a delightful Japanese couple over for dinner, Toru san & his lovely wife, Yoshiko. Toru san is an immensely interesting person, steeped in history, born in 1944 in Hiroshima, a year before the bomb was dropped. Luckily, he wasn’t in the city at the time of the attack, but held us wide-eyed with his stories in halting English about his experience in those days, & also about his stories when he worked for World Airways. Some time back, he told DH about the last World Airways flight out of Danang in Vietnam, which he was on board too, sent in to evacuate women & children at the end of the war.

Amazingly enough, a few days later, another of the hub’s colleagues discovered a video of the very flight on You-tube. “J.Daly,owner of World Airways, sent a Boeing 727 aircraft to Da Nang Vietnam to pick up stranded woman and children. Instead the aircraft was swamped by military personnel climbing on the aircraft. There were 260 people aboard a plane which is designed to carry 105. The plane was overloaded by 20,000 pounds. The baggage compartments were loaded with people. Some of the problems during the flight included, the rear stairway remained partially extended for the entire flight, the main wheels would not retract, a hand grenade damage to one of the wings causing fuel loss, and the lower cargo doors were open. The plane had to fly at 10,000 feet because of lack of pressurization thus fuel consumption was three times greater than normal. A flight on a “wing and a prayer”The above picture has Toru san & Yoshiko, & also some exquisite red bean paste Japanese tea cakes that Yoshiko had earlier sent for us from a speciality bakery in Japan. Yoshiko turned out to be one of the bubbliest & chirpiest souls I’ve met…warm, elegant & full of life. She appreciated every little thing … from the food to the chrysanthemums, to the daughters blue highlights … & was full of stories of Japan, both war-time & more recent. I made this pudding for dessert when they were here. Both of them nodded with glee when they tasted the pudding…‘Lice pudding, lice pudding, vely nice vely nice’, they excitedly said, & my daughter, blue highlights & all, almost passed out. She didn’t realise that they tend to say ‘l’ instead of ‘r’!!! LOL

Saffron Rice Pudding / Zafrani Kheer

Rice – 2/3 cup
Milk – 1 1/2 ltrs, whole fat + 1/2 cup cold milk
Cream – 1/2 cup; optional
Condensed Milk – 1 400ml can
Saffron – 1 tsp; soaked in warm milk
Seeds of 8-10 cardamoms; crushed in pestle & mortar
Almonds – 1/2 cup; blanched,peeled & chopped
For garnishing: Silver leaf, slivered almonds, pistachios, saffron strands


  • Wash the rice well, & strain it. Put it out flat in a microwave platter & run on high for 1 minute. Rest for 1 minute, loosen the grains with a fork, flatten again & run for another minute. Leave to cool (it should be dry now), & grind in a coffee grinder.
  • Bring milk to boil, simmer & add the condensed milk, stirring constantly while adding it. Add the cream & mix in well.
  • Now mix the ground rice with the reserved cold milk. Take the pan off the heat source, mix in the rice mixture thoroughly, & put back on simmer. Cook uncovered, on low heat, for 30-45 minutes until it becomes thickish & the rice grains are cooked. Stir often to avoid getting the rice into lumps. (If it does get into lumps, like mine sometimes does, just run a hand blender through it on low speed).
  • Stir in the soaked saffron & ground cardamom seeds. Check for sweetness, & add more sugar if required. Let it sit till it comes to room temperature, or is luke warm. Now you can set the pudding either in a large pudding bowl or in individual ones. Garnish as desired. Chill covered for up to 3 days in the fridge.
    Note: This is a saffron rice pudding. For a plain version, the saffron can be omitted; the pudding is still very rich & delicious! A saffron version without condensed milk can be found here.

This delicious bowlful of originality is plodding off to Lore for her Original Recipes event @ Culinarty for her festive round-up.

This white pudding is also headed for Lubna @ My Kitchen Flavours who is hosting ‘Food in Colour’ for December; her choice of colour is WHITE! FIC is the brainchild of Sunshinemom @ TongueTicklers.

Have a sweet holiday season…

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  • Laurie
    8 years ago

    You must be a fabulous host Deeba! What a wonderful dessert for such an intriguing evening! The stories shared are amazing.. how exiting to sit in on tales of such events!
    Is that silver foil on top of the rice? So pretty!! 🙂

  • Ivy
    8 years ago

    I made kheel and it is delicious indeed. Must tly it your way as well. I was just watching the video, wow what an expelience to be on that flight!!

  • Lori Lynn
    8 years ago

    Such an interesting post. Enjoyed it very much. Love the garnish on your pudding.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago


    Nice recipe! Isn’t this called firni/phirni ? Beautiful pictures.

  • Nazarina A
    8 years ago

    What lovely ingredients! I used to feel the same way about rice pudding ha! ha! I think I have grown up some, to be able to appreciate the comfort factor of rice pudding. Deeba, yours look so creamy and truly a comfort food. I would eat yours in a heartbeat!

  • meeso
    8 years ago

    Very interesting video, glad you shared it… the pudding must taste great, looks so good!

  • Manggy
    8 years ago

    Oh, Meher… Anyway, lovely company you have… Their stories are fascinating even if I heard them second-hand! The gifts look delicious.

    Also delicious? This indulgent rice pudding!

  • Rajani
    8 years ago

    wow! kheer looks great! and interesting post about your japanese friends. do japanese like indian food?

  • Helene
    8 years ago

    I haven’t had rice pudding in years. What a great dessert. Those cookies look good also.

  • Mike of Mike's Table
    8 years ago

    Sounds like an interesting guest (and lol about the l/r thing) and that pudding sounds spectacular. I’ve never had saffron with my rice pudding, and now I really wonder why…and I really want rice pudding!

  • Gigi
    8 years ago

    your rice is so beautiful. i am intrigued by the addition of saffron. very exotic.

  • Simran
    8 years ago

    Kheer’s my favorite too. And your version with saffron and almonds seems simply delicious

  • Curry Leaf
    8 years ago

    Lovely and perfect.Simply delicious
    and rich

  • Elra
    8 years ago

    I love rice pudding so much, but never made it myself. How embarrassing is that?

  • noble pig
    8 years ago

    Oh it’s beautiful..we love that type of pudding…very, very nice.

  • Bharti
    8 years ago

    LOl about your daughter and the lice pudding part. I can’t stop laughing! My kids love this stuff- I make it in the crockpot sometimes and that gives it almost rabri like taste.

  • Lore
    8 years ago

    Deeba how wonderful! I’ve never eaten rice pudding with ground rice, looks soooo creamy 🙂
    Thank you for sharing it with the Original Recipes Round-Up!

  • Kitchen Flavours
    8 years ago

    Rich, creamy and yummylicious.
    Thank you for sending this down to FIc-White.

  • Gloria
    8 years ago

    Deeba , daugther really love Rice pudding I will try this, look really nice.xxGloria

  • Jeanne
    8 years ago

    Being an inveterate collector of airline stories, I was absolutely fascinated by the World Airlines stuff. I had heard about the legendary last flight out of Danang, but the footage really brings it to life. Brave guys, those pilots.

    And not only do I love your rice pudding but also the little fluted cups!

  • muralimanohar
    8 years ago

    OMG..I make kheer all the time, but never quite as full on as this. I’ve found my dish for the next holy day!! 😀

    How amazing is your friend Toru san. I’ve read the story of that last flight, and wow. Just wow.

  • Rajani
    8 years ago

    deeba, had friends over for a weekend get together this friday, made your version of rice pudding. it was fantastic. really like soul food. picked up so many compliments – so I really had a sneaky start to the new year!:)

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