A glance at 5th Element’s dessert menu reveals that sweet treats in India are very different from their counterparts here in the States. Most Indian desserts aren’t easily relatable to decadent baked goods most American restaurants offer.

Rasmalai, a homemade fresh cheese with saffron flavored milk, is featured next to Gazar ka Halwa, a sweet made of carrots, raisins and sweetened milk. The latter has similar ingredients to carrot cake but the taste couldn’t be different. Another difficult-to-describe treat is traditional Gulab Jamoon- milk dumplings reminiscent of dense donut holes steeped in saffron syrup.

Translating these complex flavors into an American dessert framework just doesn’t do the flavors justice. So this month, First Coast Mag & 5th Element Indian Restaurant offers a recipe so you can play with the flavors of India in your own kitchen.

Rice Kheer

While daily meals in most Indian homes may end simply with seasonal fruits, Rice Kheer is always served on special occasions.

“Kheer is something that in every part of India we eat. From where I’m from they just add pistachios or almonds,” my neighbor Jasleen Dhillon told me. Dried fruits, seasonings and even coconut milk change the flavor slightly but the essence of this dessert is a creamy rice-based confection that’s most often served cold.

The history of Kheer is over 2,000 years old and may be the flavorful root of more bland English rice pudding. Traditional Rice Kheer is cooked slowly and then set aside to cool, taking over 4 hours to prepare. Prepare this quicker version as you delve into one of the most popular and culturally essential desserts from India’s past and present.


Rice Kheer

Preparation Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 15 mins

Makes 4 servings


1 cup cooked rice (chawal) basmati- me

2 cups milk

1/3 cup condensed milk

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp. cardamom (elaichi) powder

1 tsp. ghee


  1. Mix together the rice, milk and condensed milk in a broad non-stick pan and simmer on a flame, stirring continuously, for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar, cardamom powder and ghee and mix well till the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Serve hot.


  1. The rice should be over cooked to get a more creamy texture for the kheer.
  3. Use 4 to 6 sachets of artificial sweetener, instead of the sugar