Lest we forget: There is nothing pasta can’t do.
Noodles are having a bit of a moment right now, and rightly so: ramen this, soba that. Even spiral-cut zucchini has fans. (I have not tried it, so I will continue drinking STFU juice about it.)
As such, I think we’d be remiss to ignore the potential of pasta for desserts.
After all, it’s the easiest, most accessible starch we have. Just waiting in the pantry, counting the days until it’s put to good use by the loving touch of warm, creamy milk. Enter vermicelli kheer, an Indian dessert that you must get cozy with ASAP. The best way I can describe it is: not unlike rice pudding, but much faster, and less boring.
It seems it’s usually spiced with cardamom, and typical mix-ins are raisins and cashews or almonds. I went with glam saffron and (glam level debatable) pistachios, for no reason other than curiosity. I’ll note that recipes for saffron-spiced versions of vermicelli kheer do exist online — and pistachios just seem to be a natural match.
Although regular old dairy milk is the traditional way in the realm of kheer, substituting it for coconut milk would make this vegan. I realize that using other types of nut milk, especially cashew milk (my new favorite; sorry almond milk/I always liked your mom/what a shame), is tempting. However, sometimes that stuff can get separated, clumpy, and generally weird when you boil it. We don’t need that noise.
Regardless of how you make this, I hope you do. It is the soothing, steaming bowl of (slight) decadence your soul will thank you for, especially if you’re not as lucky as some of us and have to weather this mean winter.
Which reminds me of another angle for my “vermicelli kheer is baller as hell” argument: You probably don’t need to leave your house to make it. Keep them sweatpants on, champ. Dig through your pantry and join us in the realm of dessert pasta! It’s glorious here.
- 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 cup broken vermicelli (I used broken angel hair pasta; fideos would also be a good choice)
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3-4 strands saffron (and/or a couple cardamom pods)
- 2 tablespoons pistachios (or any kind of nut you prefer, really), plus more for topping
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins (or other dried fruit), plus more for topping
- Heat up the ghee in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add vermicelli and fry, stirring frequently, until dark golden and fragrant, 3 minutes or so.
- Add milk, sugar, saffron, pistachios, and raisins. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with additional fruit and/or nuts.