Sweet Rice, also called Kheer and Rice Pap or Porridge is a thick creamy rice base dessert or breakfast food. Although Kheer and Rice Porridge both use the same ingredients and cooking method some families call it Kheer, while other families call it porridge or pap. In some families it is thick and pudding like while in other families it may be loose and runny. This really just depends on your preference and there is no right or wrong way to eat sweet rice. As long as it is tasty, enjoy it however you like.

 

Choosing the Right Rice

In Guyana my family used “fine” rice to make sweet rice. Fine rice is broken rice grains left over from the milling process. It is sold at a discounted price and often used for large gatherings. Whenever my late grandmother made sweet rice (called Kheer by her side of the family) she used fine rice. Whenever my grandmother Inez made sweet rice we called it rice pap or rice porridge. For rice pap or porridge Granny Inez used regular long grain rice. For this recipe I tested a few different types of rice. I shared some of my recipe testing on instagram and quite a few of my followers suggested using arborio rice, the rice used in making risotto, for a really creamy sweet rice. That is the rice I used for this recipe but you can also used long grain white rice as a substitute. I soaked my rice over night before making the sweet rice but you can soak it for 2-4 hours if pressed for time. If you don’t soak your rice you can still make good sweet rice, it will just take a longer cooking time.

Choosing your Spices for Sweet Rice

When cooking on the stove stop I prefer whole spices. Want to brighten up and enhance your spices? Toast them a little in the hot sauce pan before adding the water. This will really bring out the flavor of the spices. When making sweet rice in the instant pot I use ground spices because pressure cooking the whole spices increases the intensity of the flavor and makes the sweet rice very perfumed and fragrant. So to maintain the right balance between the spices and other ingredients I use ground spices

Choosing the right method for your Sweet Rice

Traditionally sweet rice is made similar to risotto. You add liquid to the rice a little at a time and cook low and slow stirring constantly to ensure even cooking. But I am always thinking of and looking for an easier way of making traditional dishes that don’t compromise on flavor, so if you are open to trying some other methods see below.

1. Traditional Stove top method:

For the truly traditional way of cooking sweet rice, I soaked my rice in water overnight (you can also soak it for 2-4 hours if pressed for time). Soaking rice helps to break down the grain and helps to achieve that silky texture needed for sweet rice.  If Then I added the rice and spices plus 2 cups of water to a saucepan on high heat, brought up to a boil and cooked for 10 minutes. Next I add the milk, reduced the heat to medium low and continue to cook stirring often until the rice is fluffy. Along the way I added another cup of water as the mixture thickened. You can add small amounts of water throughout until the rice is cooked and a creamy consistency is achieved.  This will take between 30 to 40 minutes of slow cooking and stirring constantly.

2. Cooking low and slow with no stirring:

For the next method I tried cooking my sweet rice the way I cook stove top rice. I added 3 cups of water and spices to a sauce pan and brought up to a roaring boil. Then I added the soaked rice (drained and rinsed). Then immediately reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook. After 30 minutes the rice was completely velvety. Then I added my milk and sweetened and let it continue to cook on low for an additional 10 minutes stirring once or twice in between. It was delicious and not as much work as the traditional method.

3. Instant Pot:

For an even more hands free method I added water, ground spices and the soaked rice (drained and rinsed) to my instant pot and pressure cooked for 20 minutes. Then I let it sit until the pressure was naturally release. After which I added milk and sweetened. During one of the tests for the instant pot recipe, I added the milk, rice and all of the spice and pressure cooked for 20 minutes. Although this method created a tasty sweet rice, the rice did not get as silky and the texture was a bit gummy.

Dairy Versus Dairy Free

Traditionally sweet rice is sweetened with milk and sugar. In Guyana we use evaporated milk and/or milk powder and condensed milk when available. When I was growing up there was limited access to fresh dairy milk, unless you lived in a community where someone owned cows, so most people relied on canned milk or milk powder.

I made a dairy free version of this recipe for my children by using coconut milk. In one recipe I used evaporated coconut milk, sweetened condensed coconut milk and topped it off with coconut cream. They loved it but it was a bit too sweet. In another version I used coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut sugar to taste and this version was the clear winner. I love experimenting and converting traditional dishes to wholesome and diary dishes.

Kheer Versus Rice Pap/Porridge

In Guyana many Indo Guyanese families call this dish Kheer much like the Indian Rice pudding. It is typically made for religious ceremonies and holidays, especially Diwali and Phagwah/Holi. My grandmother Evelyn who was a devote Hindu made sweet rice for her Poojahs and served it with puri (a deep fried roti).

In many Afro-Guyanese households this dish, with all the same ingredients and cooking instructions, is called rice pap or porridge. The word pap (not pop as some may say) has French and German origins meaning soft food and is used predominantly on the African continent to describe foods that are soft and porridge like. All of my life growing up in Guyana I thought the word was “pop” as in rice pop and really thought that people were using a hard “a” pronunciation because of creoles (a local Guyanese dialect that tends to emphasize soft vowel sounds with a hard “a”)

Save it for Later

The Printable Sweet Rice Recipe Card (Traditional):

Guyanese Sweet Rice: Traditional Stove Top
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A rich and creamy rice pudding or porridge eaten as a dessert or for breakfast
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert/Breakfast
Cuisine: Guyanese
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Rice (Arborio or Long grain white rice preferred), soaked over night in 2 cups of water
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 teaspoon of whole cloves
  • 4 Cardamom pods
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 1 can of condensed milk
Optional:
  • ¼ cup of golden raisins, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon of custard powder
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (optional and preferably if eating as porridge for breakfast)
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract/essence
Instructions
  1. Add water and spices to a sauce pan and bring to a rapid boil on high heat
  2. Next drain and rinse the soaked rice, then add rice and raisins (if using) to boiling water
  3. Continue to boil for 10 minutes then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes without stirring
  4. Next, if using custard powder, dissolve the custard powder into the evaporated milk ensuring that there are no lumps
  5. Then add evaporated milk, condensed milk and vanilla extract (essence) to the sauce pan with the rice and mix together well
  6. Continue to cook on low for another 10 minutes or until it reaches your desired thickness, stirring often to prevent burning or sticking
  7. Serve warm and enjoy
Notes
For a more dairy free and wholesome sweet rice consider substituting the evaporated and condensed milks with coconut milk and coconut cream and sweetening with coconut sugar.

For that option use 1 cup of coconut milk, ½ cup of coconut cream and ½ cup of coconut sugar. The sweet rice will have a darker color because of the coconut sugar but it is just as delicious.

Add the coconut milk and coconut sugar at the same point in the recipe where you would add the evaporated and condensed milk but mix in the coconut cream at the very end.

 

The Instant Pot Sweet Rice Recipe Card:

Guyanese Sweet Rice: Instant Pot Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A rich and creamy rice pudding or porridge eaten as a dessert or for breakfast
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert/Breakfast
Cuisine: Guyanese
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Rice (Arborio or Long grain white rice preferred), soaked over night in 2 cups of water
  • 4 cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (optional and preferably if eating as porridge for breakfast)
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 1 can of condensed milk
Optional:
  • ¼ cup of golden raisins, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon of custard powder
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract/essence
Instructions
  1. Add water, spices and raisins to the instant pot
  2. Then seal and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes
  3. Then allow to pressure down through a natural release this takes about 10 minutes
  4. Next if using custard powder, dissolve the custard powder in the evaporated milk ensuring there are no lumps
  5. Then add the evaporated milk, condensed milk, vanilla essence/extract and raisins (if using) to the instant pot and mix together well
  6. Next put the instant pot in sauté mode and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning
  7. Then turn the instant pot off, let rest for another 5 minutes, then serve warm and enjoy
Notes
You may also add everything to the instant pot all at once. If you prefer this method, increase the water to 4 cups and mix everything together well. Then seal up and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. Then allow for a natural release which takes about 10 minutes. After the pressure releases open the instant pot and mix together well. Rice should be soft and fluffy and consistency will be creamy and pudding like.

You may also like Plantain and Sweet Potato Porridge:

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