I came across Nik Sharma, the author and photographer behind the blog A Brown Table, on Instagram a few months ago. I do not post a lot on Instagram, but I love to scroll through the images in my feed in hopes of spotting any images of Hulk, Australia, and colorful (and tasty-looking) food. Nik’s photo that day stood out for many reasons. After the initial introduction, I hopped over to his blog and I was doubly pleased to find that his recipes are equally as enticing as the photos, many of which have strong Indian influences and are inspired by Nik’s Indian heritage and time spent growing up in India and the United States. I jumped at the opportunity to have him on the In the Kitchen With column. Nik is sharing with us a sweet dish from his childhood called sevaiyan, or Indian vermicelli kheer. I wish they offered this at my local cafe for breakfast! -Kristina
About Nik: Nik is a freelance photographer, supper club cook, recipe developer and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area where he shares his love for all things delicious on his blog A Brown Table. His work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Food52, The Kitchn, Life and Thyme, and many more. When not in the kitchen or behind the camera, Nik can be found indulging in his desire to collect as many delightful cookbooks as possible, sifting through thrift stores for vintage finds and planning adventurous trips. Nik can be found on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
See how to make Nik’s Sevaiyan after the jump!
1 cup Indian vermicelli (wheat) or angel hair pasta, broken into approximately 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons ghee or clarified unsalted butter
12 unsalted raw pistachios, shelled and chopped
12 unsalted raw almonds, with or without skins, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
4 cups whole or 2% milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
5 medjool dates, chopped, pits removed
1 1/2 teaspoons rose water
Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a deep, thick bottomed 3 1/2 quart saucepan on medium-low heat. Once the ghee has melted, add the broken vermicelli and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to coat with the ghee. Stir the noodles and cook for around 3-4 minutes until they are slightly golden brown. Remove the vermicelli from the saucepan and keep aside until ready to use.
In the same saucepan, melt the remaining ghee on medium-low heat. Add the chopped nuts and raisins and cook for around 1 minute or until the nuts have turned slightly golden brown. Remove and keep aside until ready to use.
In the same saucepan, add the milk, sugar, saffron and cardamom. Stir the milk on medium-high until the sugar has completely dissolved. As soon as the milk begins to boil reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the browned vermicelli prepared earlier in step 1. Add the chopped dates to the milk along with 3/4 of the dried fruit and nut mixture prepared in step 2. Stir until the noodles are completely tender, this will take about 5-6 minutes. Remove from stove.
There are two ways to serve and eat this dish. If you like to eat it hot, stir in the rose water just before serving and garnish with the remaining fruit and nuts. This dessert can also be served cold, simply chill the kheer in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in the rose water and garnish with the remaining fruit and nut mixture.
Why Nik loves this recipe: I like desserts that are easy to make; the less fuss, the better. This vermicelli kheer falls right into that category of sweets, and because I grew up eating this a lot it is one of my favorite comfort foods. There is also the versatility factor, which makes this treat even more attractive. On a hot summer day, I serve it chilled, while on a cold winter day I serve it hot and, heck, sometimes I even eat a bowl for breakfast!