Sago or Tapioca Pearl Milk Pudding
When you mention Tapioca milk pudding (kheer) in UK, people wrinkle their noses, because they remember how it was served in school dinners of their childhood, slimy and lumpy! This Indian kheer has no resemblance to that. It is a delicious dessert, quite easy to make, as long as you follow all steps. It was quite popular in my grandmother’s time, because it was considered suitable as a fast breaking, non-cereal, food. My grandmother and mother’s generation kept a lot of religious fasts a, my GM fasted twice a week.
1 cup sago/tapioca/sabudana
1 1/2 litre milk
8-10 saffron threads
1 tbsp. ground chopped pistachios (not salty ones)
1 tbsp. chopped/shredded almonds
Sugar to taste (add 2 tbsp. and then adjust to taste.) or sweetener
Measure all ingredients. Keep aside.
Washing the sabudana pearls: Sabudana pearls need to be washed well in order to remove starch from its surface. This is important to avoid a gluey mess later on. Wash in 5-6 changes of water, stirring with your fingers, until water is not cloudy, it runs clear.
Soaking: Place in a wire sieve and place it under running water, shaking the pearl. This is an important step. It removes the surface starch, which stops the kheer turning into a gluey mess.
Place in a bowl and soak in cold water, which is about 2 millimetres above the pearls, no more, no less. Leave to stand 6-8 hours or longer. I often leave it overnight. If you have not added too much water, you will find that all the water has been absorbed and you can separate the pearls easily with a fork. There is no stickiness.
Cooking: Place milk in a heavy bottomed wok or pan and bring to boil.
Add sago, bring to boil and turn heat down to medium. Keep the milk simmering for about 20 minutes. You have to keep stirring it all the time while simmering, scrapping off the milk skin from the sides and the bottom of the pan back into the milk. If you don’t do this, the milk will ‘catch’ easily and the whole pudding will be ruined.
The milk should thicken and the pearls should become transparent. Test by taking a few pearls out on a spoon.
Add cardamom, saffron strands and sugar, adding a little sugar to start. then taste and adjust. You can use sugar free sweetener. Stir them in.
Boil for a few more minutes and turn the heat off.
Stir in chopped nuts.
Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle remaining nuts on top.
You can serve it hot, but I prefer to serve it chilled.