Kheer is an Indian rice pudding dish that is simple, yet so creamy and delicious. It traditionally consists of basmati rice, whole milk, and sweet, warming spices such as saffron, cloves, and cardamom. This modified version utilizes similar ingredients, except the basmati rice has been replaced with some wholesome, wholegrain quinoa and some extra spices such as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and nutmeg have been included. This adds a bit more flavor and a lot more phytonutrients including antioxidants, protein, fiber, B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium.
This dish is perfect for the fall and winter seasons as it is grounding, nourishing, slightly sweet, and very soothing on a cold day. It is great for reducing Vata dosha and increasing vital Ojas (immunity, vitality, energy) in the system. Although it is best for Vata types, it is also beneficial for Pitta and can easily be made suitable for Kapha as well (see doshic modifications at the bottom of the page).
I often enjoy this dish either as a wholesome snack or healthy dessert with great enjoyment (and no guilt!). It is perfect for times of low energy, pregnancy, postpartum, and after a cleanse to regain strength and energy. It is light enough to eat on a regular basis and tasty enough to avoid boredom (in my option). In fact, one can make this quinoa pudding as a base recipe and jazz it up with each serving by adding in some extras such as honey, maple syrup, cacao nibs, raisins, nuts, chopped dates, or coconut depending on your taste buds’s desire at that particular moment.
With the simplicity of this recipe, the high nutrient content, and the delicious flavor you will soon be hooked like myself… So let’s get started!!
Saffron Spiced Quinoa Kheer Recipe
- Doshic effect: Vata↓, Pitta↓, Kapha↑*
- Makes: about 10 cups
- Soak Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 to 45 minutes
- Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
*See the doshic variations listed below the recipe to make this dish more Kapha-friendly!
- Large soup pot (about 1 gallon)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 2 cups white quinoa, soaked
- 10 saffron stigmas, soaked
- 6 cups water
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 2 tablespoons Ayurvedic Breakfast Spices*
- 3 to 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- Honey to taste (optional)
- Cinnamon for garnish
*The Ayurvedic Breakfast Spices can be replaced with 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric, and a large pinch of nutmeg and clove powder.
1. Soak the quinoa for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking. This will ensure a soft and pleasant texture for the kheer. Strain and discard the water before use.
2. Soak the saffron for 10 minutes in 1/4 cup of water to release the flavor and health properties of the saffron. Do not strain the water as it will be added to the recipe.
3. Place 6 cups of water and 4 cups of milk into a large soup pot and heat, covered, on high until it is about to boil.
4. Once hot, reduce the heat to a low simmer and add in the quinoa, ghee, breakfast spices, cinnamon sticks, salt, and soaked saffron (plus soaking water). Stir well until the spices are fully dissolved.
5. Cover the pan, leaving a slight crack in the lid, and cook on a low simmer for 40 minutes. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes.
6. At 40 minutes, check the consistency of the pudding. The quinoa should be very soft and well cooked. The dish itself should be soupy with a small amount of extra liquid. If it is overly soupy continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, checking and stirring every minute or two.
7. Once the desired consistency has been reached, turn the heat off and cover the pot completely, leaving it on the warm burner. This will allow the extra juices to absorb and make it even more soft and creamy.
8. If you wish to add a bit more sweetness add in the honey to taste AFTER the kheer has cooled to about 110 degrees or so*. Serve in small dishes and garnish with a small sprinkle of cinnamon.
*Honey should never be cooked or heated over 110 degrees. When heated the honey changes its molecular structure and becomes toxic and undigestible to the body.
9. Eat, sit, share, and enjoy in good company!
1. Place the desired amount of quinoa pudding in a small sauce pan. Add in a generous splash of milk (or small amount of water for Kapha types). Stir well.
2. Turn the heat to a low simmer setting and cover. Heat here for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes.
3. Add in any extras if desired after the heating is complete.
NOTE: This recipe will stay good for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, although each serving should only be reheated once.
Although I love this recipe as is, once in a while I may want to jazz it up a bit with some extra additions. For this I often will make the recipe as shown, but with each serving add in the extras as I desire. Of course these additions can also be added to the entire dish at the same time the quinoa is cooking or after the cooking process has completed depending on your preference. Here are some of my favorite additions:
- Raisins (soaked for Vata types)
- Dates, chopped and pitted
- Extra spices (especially cinnamon and saffron!)
- Slivered almonds, chopped pistachios, chopped walnuts, or chopped cashews (sautéed in ghee is even more tasty!)
- Hemp seeds or chopped pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds or freshly ground flax seeds
- Shredded coconut or coconut butter
- Cacao nibs or powder (not recommended for Vata types)
- Extra ghee or coconut oil
Optional Doshic Variations
This recipe is great as is for Vata types and during times of Vata imbalances. It is beneficial for strengthening the body, reducing dryness, alleviating constipation, boosting energy levels, and increasing immunity. Due to its warm, well-cooked, soupy nature, this recipe is easy-to-digest and should not upset Vata digestive issues such as gas and bloating.
Overall this recipe is beneficial for Pitta types, although the spices may be a bit heating for some. In this case, one should cut the amount of spices in half and 1/4 cup of rose water should be added directly after the cooking process is complete. Otherwise enjoy as is!
This recipe can be a bit heavy for Kapha due to the dairy involved. In this case, one should replace the cow dairy with a nut milk, seed milk, or goat milk. It is also recommended to reduce the amount of milk to three cups while increasing the water to seven cups. The ghee should be omitted altogether. The spices should be doubled to help lighten this recipe and aid in digestion. Honey is the best sweetener for Kapha, but should be used sparingly. If extra additions are added, the best options would be cacao nibs, chia seeds, freshly ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, or chopped pumpkin seeds. The other suggested additions listed above should be avoided (sorry!).