Eid, for those who live in this part of the world, is synonymous with bowls of creamy, silken, and aromatic sheer khurma. Speckled with roasted nuts, fragrant with cardamom, and sweetened with dates, the dessert embodies a feast for all the senses.
What is sheer khurma?
Sheer khurma is a dessert made on Eid in parts of South and Central Asia. Translated to English from Farsi (Persian), it means milk with dates. Essentially, it’s vermicelli and dates cooked in thick milk until it turns creamish and garnished with all almonds, pistachios, raisins, and more cooked in ghee. While the preparation sounds similar to vermicelli kheer, the end result, particularly the taste and consistency, is deliciously different.
How Do I Make Sheer Khurma?
I believe good food is the thread that ties us together. So, when I can, I like to make all sorts of cuisines with the understanding that I might not do complete justice to them.
I know this is not the most traditional sheer khurma recipe. So please overlook any artistic liberties I may have taken, but it all comes from a place of love – a place where I simply can’t resist making one more delicious and moreish bowl.
- Start by roasting almonds, pistachios, dates, and raisins in ghee in a thick bottom pan. I used a regular kadhai.
- In a couple of minutes, when the nuts and dried fruits are nicely coated in ghee, golden brown, and beautifully fragrant, add the vermicelli.
- I used roasted broken vermicelli that’s easily available in my neighborhood. If you’re using the finer, unbroken vermicelli, roast it separately and then add it to the pan.
- Pour in milk followed with a few strands of saffron. Regular milk vehemently disagrees with me, forcing me to substitute it with plant-based options, which is why I used coconut milk here.
- Let the mixture come to a boil, and then lower the heat. Stirring once a while, cook for about 10 to 15 minutes till the vermicelli is cooked through.
- Take it off the heat, add raw sugar to taste, cardamom powder, and rose water. The last is completely optional, but it does lend a delicious aroma to the finished dessert.
Quick notes on sheer khurma:
The dates and raisins make the delicacy sweet enough. So, I barely whisked in a tablespoon of sugar. I suggest a taste test when incorporating sugar and pandering to your preference.
The sheer khurma thickens as it cools. I love that thick and super creamy. But if you prefer a thinner consistency pudding, add more milk to achieve the desired thickness.
Variations in sheer khurma ingredients
Nuts and dried fruits: Dates are vital to sheer khurma. Barring them, you can experiment with any nuts and dried fruits. Leave out what doesn’t suit your palate, or add in what does.
Cashews are a good choice. Chironji is another typical ingredient, but I didn’t have any, so I didn’t bother including them. White poppy seeds are also a common ingredient in the dish. You can even try desiccated, grated coconut. Add it along with the milk.
Milk: I absolutely did not cut any corners on richness with coconut milk. It’s sufficiently thick to retain that creamy essence of sheer khurma. That said, using regular skim milk should not be a problem.
However, full-fat milk is the best alternative. If you’re feeling inspired and wish to make the treat even richer, khoya is one more substitute.
Ghee: For those who are partial to vegan sheer khurma, replace ghee with coconut oil. But remember this caveat - like dates, ghee is imperative to the flavor dimension of the dish. It imparts a nutty aroma and emphasizes the layers of richness. Plus, the fragrance of nuts roasted in ghee is so wonderful, you really don’t want to miss it.
Sugar: Raw sugar is simply my preference. Feel free to rely on regular white sugar, coconut sugar, or even jaggery.
Serving sheer khurma
Hot, warm, or cold – you can serve sheer khurma any which way. In winter, I favor the hot version. But in summer, I like it thoroughly chilled. I had a hard time leaving it in the fridge and I can attest that a good portion of it was missing when the sheer khurma graced our table.
- 2 tbsp Ghee
- 2 tbsp Almonds, blanched, peeled, and sliced
- 2 tbsp Pistachio, blanched, peeled, and sliced
- 8 Dates, deseeded and cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp Raisins
- 1/2 cup Vermicelli /Seviyan I used broken, roasted vermicelli
- 4 cups Coconut milk You can use regular milk
- 1/2 tsp Saffron strands
- 2 tbsp Raw sugar You can use regular white sugar
- 1 tsp Cardamom powder
- 1 tsp Rosewater Optional
- Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed wide pan.
- Add the almonds, pistachios, dates, and raisins. Cook for 2 minutes until the nuts are lightly roasted.
- Add the vermicelli. Cook for 1 -2 minutes, until it's nicely coated in ghee.You may need to roast the vermicelli for longer if using the unroasted variety.
- Add the coconut milk and saffron. Let the mixture come to a boil. Then lower the heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, or until the vermicelli is cooked through.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the sugar, cardamom powder, and rose water. Mix well. Make sure the sugar is dissolved well.
- Serve the Sheer Khurma warm or chilled. Enjoy!