BLACK RICE PUDDING (CHAK-HAO KHEER)
This dish is among those which reminds me of my home. My grandmother (i.e. my mother’s mother) used to plant chakhao (Manipuri black rice) in the village where she lived. Every year, just after harvest, she would send some chakhao for us. My other grandmother (i.e. my father’s mother) always made pudding out of it with full cream cow milk. I still remember the sweet smell of chakhao spreading all around the house. We did not cook this pudding very often, because we did not grow much chakhao and we could only harvest it once a year. Cooking this delicious black dessert twice or a three times a year made us appreciate the importance of the dish.
Chakhao is not commonly available in any glocery store. Those who live outside Manipur can only buy it from North east Indian online shopping sites. If you cannot get chakhao, you can use Chinese black rice, because it looks similar to chakhao. But it does not taste the same, because chakhao is more aromatic than Chinese black rice. So if you want to get the proper taste of chakhao pudding, you need to use chakhao itself. In this recipe, I am using Manipuri chakhao which I brought the last time I visited my parents. It is fresh and locally grown.
Chakhao takes longer to cook than normal rice. It is therefore a good idea to first cook it in a pressure cooker to save some time.
- 1. Chakhao (black rice) - 100gm
- 2. Water - 500ml
- 3. Full cream milk - 2lt
- 4. Sugar - 150gm table sugar (or superfine sugar).
- 5. Green cardamom powder- ½ teaspoon. If cardamom powder is not available crush 4 or 5 whole green cardamoms instead. If you are using crushed green cardamom, make sure you either remove the seeds or crush them completely. This is because the seeds have a strong flavour which is not pleasant if you chew the seeds directly.
- 6. Light coloured sultanas - 1 tablespoon
- 7. Shredded coconuts - 1 tablespoon
- 8. Cashew nuts - 2 tablespoons. If cashew nuts are not available, 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds, dried pine nuts or pistachios can also be used. Cashew nuts are preferable though, because they will make the pudding taste better.
- Place the chakhao and water in a pressure cooker. Cook on a medium flame till the pressure cooker gives 3 whistles. Turn off the flame and leave the pressure cooker until it cools down. Important note: In most pressure cookers, 3 whistles is sufficient for the chakhao to cook properly. Some pressure cookers are different though. If you find the chakhao has not cooked properly after 3 whistles on your particular pressure cooker, don’t worry. It will still cook to an acceptable standard in the following steps that I am about to explain. In this situation though, next time you cook the dish, you might try to leave the chakhao in the pressure cooker until it gives 4 or even 5 whistles.
- Pour the milk in a deep pot and boil on a low flame so it will not spill out. Once the milk is boiled, add cardamom powder, sugar and the cooked chakhao from the pressure cooker. Stir the mixture frequently, this time on a medium flame. Frequent stirring will prevent the mixture from sticking on the bottom of the pot. Cook until there is a foam on top of the mixture. The foam should have a creamy texture.
- Add the sultanas, cashew nuts and shredded coconut about one minute before you turn off the flame.
- Serve hot or cold. I prefer the pudding to be hot in winter and chilled in summer.