We in Dubai are just gearing up for the summers. I know that in India, folks are experiencing the peak of it and getting to eat mangoes and other seasonal goodies is perhaps the only consolation. This year in particular we haven't gone hullabaloo about mangoes at home although my husband has bought and enjoyed many of them secretly (by hiding them in the fridge) I haven't really gone overboard trying out new recipes. I feel pretty lackluster now, like I have somehow missed the moment, because mangoes will go out of season before we know it, at least the Indian ones will. But then, its a blessing to be in Dubai as we get to enjoy fruit from all over the world, irrespective of what season it is.
We had a guest for lunch a few days ago and as usual the hubs and I split up our duties. The menu was drawn up and the work divided. Usually, he makes the starter(s) and the meat curries while the rice breads, rice and dessert is my domain. Before I started with the dessert I decided to have a dekko at the stuff I had instead of buying something new. Every year I have this ritual of taking stock of ingredients that I have and beginning to clear them up before we go on our annual vacation. Although a vacation is not on the cards this year, I decided to look through my fridge and pantry and picked up stuff that I had bought and never used. I found a pack of millet sevai/semiya which my friend Lakshmi had gifted me in India last August. Thankfully it had not crossed its expiry date and I knew I had to use it up fast. A tin of condensed milk also popped out and I decided to marry them off together and make a simple vermicelli/semiya kheer. Then it occurred to me that mangoes had not been transformed into anything magical in my kitchen this season. It would be such a shame if I didn't play around with some mango recipes, for the sake of my own satisfaction if not to impress the guest.
So armed with little knowledge about how to make a vermicelli kheer I set out to make something. I just kept adding stuff to the pot till I was satisfied with the result. If you ask me, making vermicelli kheer with condensed milk is child's play. You just need basic cooking skills to handle this job. The introduction of mangoes was merely to suit my fancy but you can always try this recipe without mangoes too. Just adjust the amount of condensed milk to suit your taste buds. Since I had bought a bottle of mango flavouring/extract I decided to use it. It comes especially handy when you are trying to make a mango cake and you need that extra flavour and aroma of mangoes, but you can totally leave it out of the recipe. I used it because I had it.
And last but not the least I can never tire myself of talking about the goodness of millets. They are a nutrient rich super food that you must incorporate into your daily meals. We need to look beyond the more expensive and much hyped super foods like chia seeds and quinoa and look in our own backyard as millets are what we need today. You will also be supporting our local farmers by introducing these little powerhouses of nutrients into your diet. In order to create awareness, sometime around end of April this year, the Department of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, organized an Organics & Millets Trade Fair at Palace Grounds, Bengaluru. I hope those living in the Garden City attended it. Do read up more on millets and how you can benefit from these humble, fairly inexpensive wonder grains or simply stay tuned to www.ruchikrandhap.com for I am all geared up to share more millet recipes with you this year!
Millet Semiya & Mango Kheer
Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 10-15 mins | Yield: 4-6
- 1/4 cup raisins, cleaned
- 1/2 cup cashew nut halves, cleaned
- 1/2 cup millet semiya (or regular sevai/semiya/vermicelli)
- 4 cups milk, warm
- 3/4th - 1 cup condensed milk
- 3/4th - 1 cup mango pulp (from 1 medium sized mango)
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- a generous pinch of saffron (optional)
- 2-3 drops of mango essence/flavouring (optional)
- a pinch of salt
1. Heat ghee in a heavy based kadai/pan and fry the raisins on a medium heat till they just puff up, remove before they burn. Add the cashew nuts and fry until golden. Remove and keep aside.
2. Clear up any burnt cashew nut or raisin bits from the ghee, add a little more to it if desired and on a slow-medium heat, roast the semiya/vermicelli till light golden (do not burn as it will turn bitter). Skip the roasting if you are using pre-roasted semiya.
3. Now add the warmed up milk and cook for about 5-7 minutes till the milk slightly thickens and the semiya is tender. Add half the quantity of the condensed milk and the mango pulp. Reduce heat to a simmer and let the kheer cook uncovered (don't cover the pan with a lid or else the milk can curdle due to the addition of the mango pulp).
4. Add all of part of the fried raisins and cashew nuts. Reserve some for garnishing.
5. Stir the kheer intermittently. Taste and add more condensed milk till you achieve the desired sweetness. *see notes
6. Add the pinch of salt, crushed saffron and let the kheer simmer for another 5 minutes. It will seem pretty thin (liquidy) but as the kheer cools down it will thicken.
7. Turn off the heat, add the mango essence and let the flavours set in. Serve hot or cold garnished with the reserved raisins and cashew nuts and some saffron if desired.
The sweetness of the kheer comes from the condensed milk and the mango as well, so adjust the amount of condensed milk accordingly
Make sure that while tasting, the kheer is slightly cool. When hot, you will be unable to judge the sweetness accurately, so let it cool a bit before tasting and then you can add more condensed milk.