Makhana Kheer

Today I am posting a recipe from Bihar. Everyday this month I will post a recipe from a different state in India.

Bihar is located in the north of India sandwiched between Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Bihar from my memory was a coal rich area. Most of the coal reserves are now in Jharkhand, the state that was carved out of Bihar.

Bihar is also known for an original art style called Madhubani. The origin of Madhubani paintings is not known. Women in the Madhubani region, near Mithila, in northern Bihar have been painting on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of their homes for centuries. The art is passed on from mother to daughter. This art style has seen a major revival in recent years. Today these paintings can be found on cloth, handmade paper and canvas too. The picture below is a sample from a children's folk art class I once taught. This piece was done by one of my students.

When I think of Bihar and food I think of Lithi. Accordingly I made lithi and we all enjoyed it very much. But then I thought I should try something different. A friend suggested makhana kheer. Phool Makhana or fox nut comes from the lotus plant. Makhana is commonly used in Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The Darbhanga region of Bihar is where makhana kheer originated. This region is also the largest producer of Makhana.

I had never heard of makhana until I got married. It was something I first tasted as a new bride. My husband's family is from Madhya Pradesh and makhana is very popular there. My mother-in-law is from Maharashtra and knew I would have no idea what makhana was. Everybody was making a big deal about it and I have to say when I got my first taste of a roasted makhana it was a big let down. It is pretty bland compared to all the seeds and nuts we normally eat. But this kheer is anything but bland. It has a lovely flavor even if you use low fat milk especially if you thicken it with ground roasted makhana.

I had seen makhana at the local Indian store and realized I would have to buy the big bag of makhana. I needed less than half the bag for the kheer but I bought it anyways. My husband roasted and finished the rest.

You will need
2 cups makhana
5 cups milk (I used 1% milk)
1/4 cup sugar
a few each of almonds, cashews and pistachios
a few raisins
2 pods cardamom
2-3 strings saffron

I used 1% milk. You can use any fat content that you have on hand. Bring the milk to a boil in a pan stirring frequently to prevent cream from forming.

Meanwhile, roast the almonds, cashews and pistachios on a baking sheet in a 350 F oven. Chop the roasted nuts lengthwise and keep aside. Shell the cardamom pods and pound the seeds to a powder with a mortar and pestle. Clean the makhana and roast them in the same pan. The makhana get crunchy when roasted.

Take off heat and let them cool. Grind half the makhana to a coarse powder.

Continue to heat the milk for about 5-10 more minutes on medium heat. Add the sugar, whole makhana as well as the powder to the milk. Mix well. The milk will thicken. Ensure there are no lumps. Add the chopped nuts, raisins, saffron and cardamom powder to the milk. Heat for another 5 minutes and turn off heat. You can serve the kheer warm or chilled.



  1. silky smooth and delicious... bookmarking this!!

  2. Very cute painting, i love Madhubani art.. I can have a bowl of this creamy delicious kheer.

  3. lovely kheer.. totally new to me

  4. I've heard about makhana kheer, but never tried it myself. You are tempting me to try it soon.

  5. My comment is same as Pavani. Heard a lot about makhana kheer but never tried or tasted it. Actually I never cooked with makhana and once bought a bag of makhana to try makhana curry. It was a flop. I still have some makhana in my pantry. Maybe I should try this kheer. Your student did an excellent job with the painting.

  6. Oh wow thats an deliicous makhane ki kheer :) I wud love to finish that bowl !! love the painting you share with each post , great dear :)

  7. Never tried makhana,but the kheer looks fabulous and creamy.mouthwatering recipe...

  8. You remind me of this yummy kheer , Varada..lovely kheer, right?

  9. Tempting kheer and surely a different one from regular one..

  10. i had plans to make makhana for this BM run...but couldnt do it as yet...i loved the kheer preparation hence will make it as i have never tasted makhana except on lohris

  11. I have been wanting to try this since this kher and you have made it so the art work too...need to learn some art from you dear.

  12. I usually make roasted makahna for snacks. THis kheer sounds divine. need to try it some time..

  13. Varada, such a tempting bowl of kheer! I am yet to cook with makhana ok..though I guess we do get it here, I am yet to be adventurous in that way..and I simply love how you mix the lovely art with your post..

  14. I made makahana ka kheer and was disappointed. Since in my house I am the only one who eats sweets i could not compare notes. Now this is the recipe I will try. between PJ's curry and your kheer makhana makes another entry home. :)

  15. I have seen makhana in the Indian stores before, but have never made them in any dish! This is very tempting as I am a die hard fan of kheers :)

  16. I've seen makhana at the Indian supermarket but never knew what it was or what it was used for. thanks for the info

  17. I made this kheer recently and loved it totally. Brunji/biranji it is called in Banaras. it is supposed to be banaras ka khana too!!!

  18. Yummy kheer. I never made, but would love to make it soon.

  19. Nice kheer.I made it a few years back and loved it. Nice to see the work of art here:)

  20. The kheer looks yummy. I think I have tasted makhana somewhere. When you say roasted, do you dry toast them and add some spices?

    1. Roast dry in a pan without spices. You just want to take away the raw uncooked taste. This is very similar to the roasting of rava in upama.


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