Eid ul Fitr – the Sweet Feast
The excitement of Eid al Fitr (also called Sweet Feast, the feast of breaking the fast, Sugar Feast) after a month of fasting is quite different from any other festival I know of. The day of celebration is decided after the sighting of the new Shawwal moon. As soon as sun goes down on the 29th of Ramadan, people rush to their rooftops to sight the Eid moon, with binoculars or with naked eye – a ritual that adds to the excitement of the festival.
The sighting of the Eid moon is announced with loud cheers from rooftops, sirens from the mosques, and, more recently, through instant text messages on cellphones and social media. Everyone is calling or texting friends and relatives felicitating on the sighting of the moon.
Sheer Khurma – an Integral Part of Eid Preparations
Then begins all the fun and festivities with the Chand Raat, or “the night of the moon” which is like the Christmas Eve a night before Eid. People rush to the markets for last minute Eid shopping. It has become a ritual with ladies to buy colourful glass bangles and get their hands tattooed with Henna or Mehndi very late in the night, after they are done with all the cooking and kitchen chores for the next morning.
I can’t separate Sheer Khurma from Eid in my mind; as its preparations begin as soon as the Eid moon is sighted, for as long as I remember I’ve seen my mother soaking and chopping dry fruits first thing on Chaand Raat. On the morning of the Eid, as soon as the Eid prayer is over Sheer Khorma is served as breakfast in every household I know of amongst my family and friends. It’s a must for dessert on Eid party table and hostess trolley.
Sheer Khurma Beginnings
Sheer Khurma originated along the Silk Road and then became popular in other parts across the Indian sub-continent and Central Asia. What is Sheer Khurma? Almost all versions include three basic ingredients – milk (sheer), dates (khurma) and vermicelli. The royal Persian kitchens, rich in the availability of nuts and spices, took this simple vermicelli pudding to a whole new level of comfort and luxury. All sorts of different nuts have now become a part of the recipe.
You can choose a few from the mix of almonds, pistachios, coconut, raisins and dates or all of them with whatever is regionally available to you. Dates remain the most significant ingredient as one of the favorite foods of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a vital part of Ramadan as world over Muslims break their fast with it. Then there are a few aromatics added to make it fragrant – cloves, green cardamom, saffron and rose water are the most popular choices.
My Sheer Khurma Family Recipe
This recipe for Sheer Khurma is my maternal grandmother’s recipe who was a Delhiite pre- partition. Her rich recipes are yet another precious dimension of my multi-cultural recipe repertoire from Punjab and Afghanistan. For this recipe you’ll need very thin vermicelli, broken into 4-5 inch lengths for easy eating. In Punjab we call vermicelli “Seviyaan” and if you are looking for them outside South Asia in some Pakistani or Indian grocery store probably you should look for seviyaan if you can’t find thin vermicelli.
We use full fat dairy milk for this recipe which is simmered with sugar and cardamom for a few minutes. The vermicelli is shallow fried briefly in desi ghee (clarified butter) and then added to the simmering milk. The vermicelli soak up some of the milk and make sheer khurma thick. The dried fruits are soaked in warm water and then slivered and fried in desi ghee. Finally the fried dried fruits and a few drops of rose water are added to the sheer khurma. It’s preferably served warm on our festive table for Eid Breakfast and on hostess trolley as dessert.
If You Like This Recipe, Do Try
Sheer Khurma, Vermicelli Pudding
- 1.5 litre full fat milk
- 1/2 packet/75g fine vermicelli
- 8 firm or dried dates
- 1/4 cup pistachios slivered
- 1/4 cup almonds slivered
- 1/4 cup dried coconut flesh/khopra finely chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil or ghee (clarified butter)
- 2-3 strands saffron (optional) soaked in 1/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
- Soak the dates, raisins and dried coconut in warm water for an hour, then chop the dates and coconut into fine thin pieces. Leave the raisins soaked till you need them next in the recipe. Similarly chop almonds and pistachios. It becomes very easy to prepare sheer khurma if the nuts and dried fruits are prepped a day ahead.
- Bring milk to a boil in a deep pan. Add cardamom and sugar, reduce heat and let it simmer.
- Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons ghee/oil in a large frying pan. Break vermicelli into 3-4 inch lengths. Fry vermicelli till they are 3 shades darker than what they were originall, 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Keep moving them around to avoid burning in one place.
- Remove vermicelli from the pan and set aside. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee/oil to the same frying pan. Stir fry all the chopped nuts, dried fruits and soaked raisins till everything is golden, fragrant and the raisins plumped up.
- Remove the milk from heat, add vermicelli, fried nuts and dried fruits and stir (save some nuts and dried fruits for garnish).
- Stir in saffron milk. (optional)
- Stir in rose water. (optional)
- Cover the pan with a lid for 5 minutes, it helps thicken the sheer khurma. Serve warm.
- If you can’t find very thin vermicelli, any other would do. Wheat or semolina would work best instead of rice noodles.
- You can add condensed milk to the dessert. In that case skip sugar from the ingredients.
- Choose firm or dried dates because they keep their shape and texture even after getting cooked and don’t go mushy like softer varieties of dates.
- Always remove hot milk pan from heat before adding vermicelli to it, otherwise it will boil over.
- Vermicelli soak up milk fast. So either keep extra milk to add to sheer khurma before serving or combine milk and other ingredients right before serving.
4 Replies to “Sheer Khurma, Vermicelli Pudding”
wonderfully balanced blend of flavours, I regret not gettiing some of sheerkhurma packed; though, we enjoyed your supper soft cake in breakfast with milk:)
Dearest Muneeba, thank you so much for your appreciation and support…I’ll make more for you whenever you want 🙂
I made this dish tonight for the love of my life. It was preceded by a Thai style chicken curry, replete with the requisite coconut cream, beans, mangetout and copious amounts of fresh coriander leaves.
For this dessert, I toasted all the nuts before chopping and adding to the dish.
I made the quantities at 75% of your recipe. After two healthy helpings, there is still more left.
I now understand why the Kama Sutra was written in your neck of the woods.
Thanks for sharing.
The Hungry Sailor
Dear Johan Zietsman, I hope you and your loved one enjoyed this recipe as much as I enjoyed reading your comment 🙂 thanks a lot for visiting the blog and your feedback 🙂