Eid day and Sheer Khurma… two things that seem to go hand-in-hand for many Pakistani families!
In many households, it’s incumbent tradition to serve Sheer Khurma on Eid day. It’s also served on special events and weddings.
Because of how quick and simple it is to make, I personally see no reason why this isn’t something that can be cooked more often at home. When I was testing this recipe out for the blog, my kids absolutely adored this and were happy to lap up a few hearty bowls of it over the course of 2 days!
What is Sheer Khurma?
Sheer Khurma originates from Afghanistan.
Sheer Khurma is a milky dessert cooked with vermicelli, dried dates and nuts. The word ‘Sheer’ means milk in the Farsi language, and ‘Khurma’ means dates = milk dates.
Traditionally, dried dates are chopped and used in Sheer Khurma.
Sheer Khurma is also known as Seviyan in some households (mine included!) and Shemai in Bangladesh, where it is often served alongside parathas.
So here’s the deal – growing up, the Sheer Khurma I ate never had dried dates. I was very unaccustomed to dried dates until I tried it once in a Panjeeri recipe and in all honesty, I wasn’t a fan. So I haven’t actually used any dried dates in the pictures of the Sheer Khurma you’re seeing. Blasphemy, I know, posting a recipe and not using the ingredient that’s in the darn name of the dish. I have included dried dates in the recipe card however, and it’s entirely up to you whether you’d like to use them or omit them.
Ingredients for Sheer Khurma
- Vermicelli – in Urdu, we call these ‘seviyan’. They’re available at most Asian food stores and also possibly larger mainstream supermarkets such as Tescos, the ones which have an international food section. You want to get the ‘roasted’ variety.
- Milk – this is a milk-based pudding-like dessert, like Kheer. Full-fat please, it really does make a difference.
- Nuts and dried dates – These are pretty important ingredients – they add to the luxury of this dish, which is why it may be so commonly consumed on Eid. The nuts add texture, richness, depth, flavour and just make it feel a lot more special!
- Sugar – obvs. I tried regular white sugar in this recipe – I can’t vouch for the results using other alternatives but if you try them please do let me know in the comments how it goes!
- Ghee – Again, this adds richness, depth and flavour. I have seen my Mother make this using oil too – just be sure to use something very neutral tasting such as corn oil
- Kewra water – this is a beautifully fragranced extract from the pandanus flower. Just one sniff of it takes me back to memories of Eid as a child! It evokes so much aroma (in a good, balanced way!) and complements the Sheer Khurma so well. You can also use rose water in lieu of this
- Double cream – optional – see more on this below
Do you need double cream or condensed milk for Sheer Khurma?
Sheer Khurma is a milk-based dessert. The cream-factor is created by simmering the milk down until it thickens.
Some recipes call for double cream (known as heavy whipping cream in the US), or condensed milk. This is simple to make the Sheer Khurma richer, more luxurious and milkier. It also helps make the process quicker too, since you get the creaminess without needing to cook down loads of milk.
I tried double cream during my trials of this recipe. And to be honest, if your Mother or relatives didn’t use double cream too, the difference in flavour is very prominent – you can tell cream has been used.
If you like the rich flavour of cream then this is a good thing – but if you find it too more-ish, it’s better to skip it. I personally skip it.
How do you make Sheer Khurma?
We start off by frying some nuts and our dried dates (which I cheekily don’t use) in ghee. We fry these just for a few minutes, until they become golden. Set aside
Then in the same ghee, we add our vermicelli. Make sure to break the vermicelli up – it makes it easier to eat. Toast the vermicelli up, stirring constantly as vermicelli burns very easily. You want to get this to a beautiful, golden colour.
Once it’s looking golden (it’ll be fragrant too!), add in all the remaining ingredients – the milk, cream (if using), sugar, kewra water (very important for that traditional aroma!), chopped dried dates and cardamom powder.
Allow this to come to a very slow simmer on a medium heat. Stir often, scraping the bottom of the pan throughout to ensure the milk doesn’t catch and burn. Allow this to cook until it has thickened to your liking – it’ll take around the range of 10-15 minutes. Stir in the reserved fried nuts once done. Garnish with more nuts and other pretty things, such as chandi ka warq (silver leaf), rose petals or other flower leaves, dried fruit such as raisins.
Some additional Sheer Khurma tips
- Most milk-based desserts have a tendency to thicken further after cooling down. So keep this in mind when you’re preparing your Sheer Khurma. If you find the Sheer Khurma has thickened too much upon cooling, you are absolutely fine to directly add some cold milk to loosen it out
- Additionally, many desserts have a tendency for the sweetness to mellow out upon cooling. Again, keep this in mind and adjust if needed
- If you don’t have cardamom powder to hand, you can use about 10 cardamom pods in this recipe. But PLEASE try to take them out before serving! Difficult, I know, but it’s very unpleasant biting into a cardamom pod when you think you’re about to bite into a pistachio! #beenthere
- Sheer Khurma is perfect to cook in advance and upon cooling, store in the fridge for the next day. This makes it great to make the night before Eid, so you have less hassle on the day!
How do you serve Sheer Khurma?
Sheer Khurma can be served hot, warm or cold. I personally prefer most of my desserts hot, but many people prefer it chilled (including my children!). It’s largely personal preference.
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Enjoy, with love x
- 1/3 cup chopped nuts
- 5-8 chopped dried dates (if preferred)
- 2tbsp ghee
- Half a packet of roasted vermicelli (100g), broken into small pieces
- 4 cups full-fat milk
- 1/2 cup double cream (heavy whipping cream in the US) (optional)
- 1tsp cardamom powder
- 2tbsp kewra water
- 6tbsp sugar (or to taste)
- Heat the ghee in a pot or pan. Toast the nuts in the ghee until they become fragrant a brown, stirring continuously to avoid burning, about 3-5 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside
- In the remaining ghee, add the vermicelli. Toast this on a medium heat, stirring continuously until the vermicelli becomes golden, about 5 minutes
- Add the remaining ingredients to the vermicelli (not the nuts). Cook this on a low to medium heat, stirring continuously until the milk thickens and begins to take the form/thickness you desire, about 10-15 minutes
- Once thickened to your liking, turn the heat off and stir in the nuts
- Garnish with nuts and dried fruit (optional)