This sweet and creamy carrot kheer is a great springtime dessert!
Carrot kheer, also known as carrot payasam, is a sweet milky pudding perfect for any special occasion. It’s really easy to make too! You just toss a few ingredients into your instant pot and cook! I use baby carrots in the recipe so you just need to give them a quick rinse and toss them right into the pot along with milk and a bit of cardamom.
Unlike the more popular rice kheer, this recipe is rice-free, making it grain-free as well. I realize that a rice-free kheer may seem unusual, but trust me – it’s delicious! (I do have a creamy rice kheer in my cookbook though if you’re interested!)
With Easter just around the corner, I have carrot desserts on my mind! This would be an excellent brunch dessert to serve at your egg hunt! I love Indian desserts and Indian carrot desserts just so happen to be a favorite of mine. I already have a gajar ka halwa recipe on my blog as well as an Indian carrot cake. Carrots and cardamom go so well together.
I use quite a bit of sugar in this recipe, but you can definitely use less. If I’m making this for my toddler, I’d cut the sweetener down to 1/4 cup but if I’m making this for a party/gathering, then I’d use 1/2 cup because desserts are meant to be sweet. You can replace the sugar with the sweetener of your choice. Honey and maple syrup are good options. You can also use coconut sugar or jaggery if you don’t mind changing the color of the dessert.
Kheer or Payasam
You might be wondering why this dish has two names? That’s because kheer is the term used in north India. In south India, this type of dish is more commonly referred to as payasam. I had never heard of “payasam” until I met my south Indian husband because in my family, we always called this type of dessert kheer.
You can make kheer or payasam out of different things but the dessert usually has a few similar ingredients: cardamom, nuts, dried fruits and sugar or jaggery. I use cane sugar for this carrot dessert because I prefer to keep the bright orange color. If you don’t care about that then try jaggery – it’s delicious. I have a Keralite moong dal payasam in my cookbook and I love that dessert with jaggery (it’s already brown so preserving the color isn’t important in that case).
Carrot Dessert Soup
A lot of people think of kheer as a pudding. But really the texture is more soup-like. I’m going to be honest. I thought about naming the title of my blog post “carrot dessert soup.” But then I thought y’all would think I was crazy. Because what the heck is dessert soup?
But you guys, this really does taste like a dessert soup! I can’t decide whether or not dessert soup sounds appealing. I did this with another dish – I refer to my 2-ingredient bhapa doi as Indian cheesecake because it tastes like cheesecake. But cheesecake sounds appealing. Tell me what you think: does dessert soup sound tasty? I actually want to know… you know, in case I make another “dessert soup” down the road 😉
And if you’re wondering if this is more like one of those trendy smoothie bowls (a concept I still don’t understand… just use a glass?), it’s not. Kheer is different because it’s made with milk that is cooked down. It’s rich and decadent, but you can tell yourself it’s a (sugar-filled) smoothie if that makes you feel better.
How to Serve This:
Garnish it! Top it with crushed nuts of your choice and golden raisins if you like them. You can serve this in a bowl or even in shooter glasses – I bet that would look so cute!
This is a dessert that tastes even better the next day, once the cardamom has really had time to infuse into the dessert, so if you’re planning a party then make this in advance. This would be a great brunch dessert!
You can serve this orange-colored kheer at any temperature. I normally prefer rice kheer to be warm but I actually prefer this carrot kheer chilled.
And if you’re serving it chilled, top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Ooh, or better yet – pistachio ice cream!
- ½ cup water
- 3 cups whole milk or full-fat coconut milk
- 1 (16 ounce) bag baby carrots
- ¼ cup cashews*
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, adjust to taste
- ½ cup sugar or sweetener of choice, adjust to taste
- Crushed nuts of choice, garnish
- Golden raisins, garnish
- Press the sauté button and add ½ cup water to the pot. Once the water begins to steam, pour the milk into the pot. (Make sure the water is steaming before adding the milk as this will prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pot.) Add the carrots, ¼ cup cashews, cardamom and stir.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 1 minute at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the contents of the pot (or use a blender to puree then pour the contents back into the pot).
- Press sauté. Add the sweetener to taste and stir until well combined. The kheer will thicken as it cools.
- Serve this dessert hot, warm, cold or at room temperature (I prefer carrot kheer to be chilled).
- Garnish with toppings (nuts and raisins) prior to serving.
- I use raw unsalted unroasted cashews in the dessert (I get them from trader joe’s but you can find them in most grocery stores). You can leave this out if you don’t tolerate nuts.
- You can replace the sugar with coconut sugar or jaggery if you don’t mind it changing the color of the dish. You can also use honey or maple syrup.