Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweet Potato Coconut Kheer (Indian Style Rice Pudding)

I have the privilege of working with really talented cooks on a daily basis. I've learned a lot over the past year working in a natural foods kitchen and the experiences I've had have taught me a whole lot about cooking delicious and healthy food. This particular recipe was inspired by a dear friend whom I work with on Thursday nights. She's an incredible cook and I just love seeing all of the many flavor combinations she comes up with every time I work with her. She's also hilarious and a joy to be around. This past Thursday night, we were pretty busy (given that it was the week before Thanksgiving and we work in a food co-op) and she was trying to come up with one last thing to make that would be quick and simple so that we wouldn't have to stay really late that night. She decided on whim to make this sweet potato kheer, which is a super delicious Indian style rice pudding. Traditionally, it's made with milk or cream, but she chose to make it with coconut milk to make it vegan. I was blown away by how delicious it was and how incredibly easy it was for her to make. I took some home and gave it to my husband to try and he liked it a lot. I then realized that I had all of the ingredients on hand at home, so I whipped up a batch, too!

This dessert is rich and warming and actually quite good for you, given that it's made with all healthy ingredients and contains no refined sugar. It will certainly be a hit among all your friends, whether they're vegan or not. And I just may have it warmed up for breakfast tomorrow. It's that good.

Sweet Potato Coconut Kheer (serves 4)

1 cup short grain brown rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 small sweet potato, peeled and grated (I used a cheese grater)
1 can organic coconut milk
1/4-1/2 cup pure maple syrup (sweeten to taste)
pinch of sea salt
large pinch of saffron threads
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cardamom (adjust to taste)
shredded coconut flakes, pomegranate seeds, slivered almonds, or chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)

1. Add rice and 2 cups of water to a small pot on high heat. Bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked and the water is absorbed. Remove cooked rice from the saucepan and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

2. In the same saucepan that the rice was cooked in, add the coconut oil and the shredded sweet potato. Cook over medium low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring constantly so the sweet potato doesn't stick to the pot.

3. Add coconut milk, maple syrup, sea salt, saffron, and cardamom to the sweet potato. Stir well, then add the cooked rice to the pot. Stir again and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld and the rice to warm through. Serve with desired toppings. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days and can be warmed up in a pot on the stove simply by adding a bit of water and stirring.

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