From kebabs and kormas to shahi tukdas, most of our ‘lavish’ food plans are often inundated by Awadhi delicacies. If you read up a bit about Awadhi food, you would find many intriguing chronicles, legends that prove why you would perhaps not find something like it anywhere else in the country. It is said that the khansamas were apparently quite secretive about their recipes. Even if they give out the ingredients, they would conceal something in order to prevent duplication. Benami kheer is one such legendary dessert from Awadhi kitchens, which was not given a name, because the chefs didn’t want to reveal the secret ingredient in the kheer, ie. Garlic. That’s right, ‘Benami Kheer’ shatters all pre-conceived notions you have about the milky pudding, and yet makes for a marvelous fare.
Kheer is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Ksheer’. It is a milk-based dessert that is mostly prepared with rice grains, or vermicelli. Over the years, people have experimented and added a variety of fruits and vegetables in the combination.
Chef Ashish Bhasin, who is currently heading The Leela Palace Gurugram and The Leela Palace Delhi, told us a few things about the unique dessert, “Benami kheer also known as lehsun ki kheer originated in the royal court of Awadh. This kheer is called Benami Kheer as initially the ingredients were kept secret and the name was not disclosed; “Benami” means ‘without a name’. The real test in making this kheer lies in the skill removing the pungency of garlic by blanching them in alum water and rendering it entirely odourless making its slivers mimic slivers of almond.”
Chef Bhasin also shared his recipe of Benami Kheer or Lehsun ki Kheer, here goes:
- Garlic peeled- 100 Gram
- Alum powdered – 15 gm
- Milk- 1500 ML
- Cardamom powder- 2 gm
- Sugar-200 Gram
- Pistachios 20 gm
- Almonds 20 gm
- Rose water 10 ml
- Optional: Saffron few strands
- Slice garlic cloves and soak them in water for about an hour.
- In 600 ml water add 1/3rd of alum and boil sliced garlic cloves for approx. 10 min.
- Strain and refresh in running water and repeat this step two more time.
- Soak these cloves in plain water for 5 mins, very lightly scrub and then strain and wash it again in running water.
- Heat milk and reduce to half
- Add blanched garlic, sugar, cardamom powder and rose water (can add saffron)Chill and serve with slivers of almond and pistachios.