Indian desserts offer a comforting, satiating feel — oozing warmth and making you dig-in for another spoonful. The versatile rice makes it way from breakfast staples to desserts that tantalize the taste buds. Most auspicious Indian desserts are made from rice — think kheer, Phirni, or even Pongal!
And you cannot deny that ones made from rice are healthier too. Yes, they have a bit of sugar, which can be replaced with jaggery. But the goodness of rice is, especially nutritional value is an added bonus. No white flour or Maida is always nutritional plus.
At the end of it, there’s something about the comfort of holding this rice bowl in your hands and relish it. So, let's take a look at these amazing rice-based desserts which has you salivating already:
Kheer/Payasa, Payasam or Phirni
We've all grown-up eating kheer on special occasions. Be it a shradh (basically a ceremony where special rites are performed for the departed ancestors) or a birthday celebration — no festive event is complete without a bowl of kheer.
Kheer is made by cooking rice in milk, jaggery/sugar, nuts, saffron, etc. The sweet porridge-like dish has about 235 calories per serving. Carbohydrates comprise 122 calories of this, while proteins account for 24 calories and about 73 calories come from fats.
While the process of making Kheer/Payasa, Payasam is same and they have the same ingredients, phirni is made in a slightly different way. For kheer, short-grain rice is cooked with milk. On the other hand, phirni is made by grounding rice to a coarse paste and then cooked with milk. The latter is also thicker than milk. Phirni is more popular in Northern India, especially UP. At the same time, kheer/payasam is made across the rest of the country.
Umpteen modern variations of the dish are now made. People add fresh fruits to it like mango, lychee, or peach to give it a punchier, tropical taste and reduce the sugar intake — resulting in a healthier and flavor-packed version of this dish.
Sweet Pongal is a lip-smacking dessert made in Southern India. Though there are many preferred savory versions of this dish, sweet Pongal is a must-have on the menu during the festivities. It is made by roasting rice and moong dal. Then the rice is cooked, and jaggery syrup is added for making sweet Pongal. Dry fruits add a finishing touch and a bit of crunch to this dish. The time taken to prepare this dish is barely half an hour. The calories of phirni ar
e about the same as kheer.
Meethe chawal/ Zarda
Come Saraswati pooja or Vasant Panchami and meethe chawal is made in almost all homes across India. This is a recipe known for maintaining the rice's glutenous texture and has a look almost similar to pulao. The rice is cooked in a series of spices like cardamom, saffron, etc. Raisins, pistachios, and cashews are added to it. Basmati rice is used for making the same. There are 262 calories per serving.
In many parts of
UP, especially Lucknow, you get the Zarda, a flavor-packed version of this rice. It contains a lot of rose water along with nuts and spices.
This form of rice is usually eaten on its own but is accompanied by a saltier version of the rice. In many western parts of India, especially Rajasthan, this sweet dessert is accompanied with gatte ke chawal. It is yellow in color too but is more savory and filling — with a whole different range of spices.
If you are a Bengali or from eastern India, then you must have tried the Patishapta pitha at any given time. This dish is eaten to celebrate the harvest of fresh rice. The dish is basically a sweet crepe made with powdered rice and is served with jaggery and coconut filling. The dish evokes nostalgic memories when the sizzling sound of cold batter hits a hot tawa pan, and spiced coconut aroma spreads. One can add a bit of cream on top for added indulgence. One generous serving of the dish is about 812 calories.
Now, like many other versions of the classic Indian desserts, people have their own way of eating this Patishapta pitha too. For example, some like to add vanilla or coconut ice cream on top with some chocolate sauce. Others like to keep it simpler with nolen gur or molten jaggery syrup that lifts the flavor of the rice. The rule of thumb here is to keep the crepe as thin as possible and fill it up with your favorite toasty coconut.
Sher Berinj Rice
This is a rice pu
dding native to the middle east but has been in the Indian subcontinent, especially in the mountainous regions. This rice-based pudding is flavored with rose water, spices such as cinnamon or cardamom, and often containing almonds. The rice is often referred to as the one-pot wonder and is tastier when made with more glutenous rice. Though it is best served warm, it can also be eaten cold if you prefer to choose so.
India is a vast country where rice is celebrated in various ways — and relished with love. Across the country's length and breadth, you will find a plethora of desserts made with rice. Current day chefs are now giving a modern avatar to traditional recipes and introducing them globally.
The glutenous rice desserts not only satiate your sweet cravings, but they are also healthy and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack!