This slow-boiled milk dessert or kheer is traditionally made in winter in my Calcutta home with tangerines or santara that have been peeled, segmented and then the inner skin removed. It is usually served during the festival of Diwali. The kheer arrives at dinner on the main Diwali day, resplendent in a large silver bowl, the bits of orange fruit contrasting with the green pistachio garnish, against a rich, creamy background. To save time, I use canned whole segments of peeled mandarin oranges in light syrup. During mango season, slices of fresh mango can be used instead of oranges. The kheer is served not too thick – the milk just needs to be boiled down to about half its original quantity.
Serves about 12
1 gallon of whole milk
Sugar to taste
Cardamom seeds to taste, crushed and powdered
a few strands of saffron (not too much as it overpowers taste of oranges)
2 14-oz cans of peeled mandarin orange segments, drained
A large handful of dry roasted pistachios, shelled and chopped into slivers
1. In a saucepan on medium heat, bring the milk to boil while stirring often to ensure that the milk solids don’t stick to the bottom. Keep boiling until the milk is about 3/4 of the original quantity. Add sugar to taste, and continue boiling and stirring. The sugar will cause the milk to become thinner temporarily, but continue boiling on medium heat until you have 1/2 the original quantity of milk. This process could take an hour or so. The milk will change color slowly to become more yellow as it thickens.
2. Once the milk is done, remove from stove, and add the cardamom and strands of saffron. Keep aside until completely cooled (otherwise the oranges tend to curdle the milk).
3. Add the drained oranges and pistachios. Serve at room temperature or cold.