Sheer khurma is a classic Mughlai dessert made with milk, dates, fine vermicelli, nuts & ghee. It is a traditional festive delight and is made during Eid ul-Fitr, Ramadan. Sheer khurma is very popular in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
What is sheer khurma?
Sheer khurma is a festive pudding made by simmering fine vermicelli with milk, dates, nuts and sugar. Sheer khurma is a Persian term meaning “milk and dates”.
This delicious and rich dessert is made on the day of Ramadan. Most Muslim homes make this in large quantities as they share this with friends & relatives.
It is made slightly different in every country/region. Some use condensed milk, mawa, saffron etc. I have shared a simple recipe made in the traditional Hyderabadi style.
So it uses only pantry staples and does not need any condensed milk or mawa. However if you prefer to use them, you can check the recipe notes. I have shared some tips.
Tips & substitutes
Vermicelli: To make sheer khurma fine vermicelli or thin seviyan is used. There are pre-roasted and unroasted vermicelli available in the market. If using pre-roasted like me, cut down the roasting time.
Dates: I have used medjool dates here. You can also use fresh dates or even dried dates. If using dried dates soak them in hot water until soft.
Nuts: I have used almonds, cashews and pistachios to make sheer khurma. You can replace any of these for the other. I soaked the nuts first in hot water for 30 mins and removed the skin. Then soaked them for 1 hour. Then chopped them finely. Alternately you can also soak them for 4 to 5 hours and remove the skin.
Chironaji seeds: Also known as charoli seeds or almondette seeds. These seeds are said to be the main ingredient in a Hyderabadi sheer khurma. They have the aroma similar to that of almonds. If you do not have them, just skip.
Chiroli seeds go rancid too quickly so buy them from a store where the stocks are fresher.
I have soaked these seeds in hot water for 30 mins and rinsed them well. Rubbed them off on a clean cloth to remove the skin. After this step discard any discolored seeds as they would be rancid.
Milk: Traditionally only milk is used to make the dish. So I used only whole milk/ full fat milk. You may also use condensed milk or mawa for flavor. If using condensed milk you can skip sugar. I have added more details in the recipe notes below.
Flavoring: Cardamom powder is the main flavoring ingredient used in hyderabadi sheer khurma. However for variations you can also use edible rose water, kewda water or saffron.
Sheer khurma recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 4 cups milk (whole milk/ full fat)
- 1 cup thin vermicelli (50 grams) (fine seviyan)
- 4 tablespoons sugar (or 3 to 4 tbsps condensed milk) (adjust to taste)
- 8 dates fine chopped
- 2 tablespoons chironji seeds
- 15 almonds (20 grams)
- 15 cashew nuts (20 grams)
- 20 pistachios (10 grams)
- 3 tablespoons ghee (or as needed)
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
- ¼ to ½ cup mawa (or khoya)
How to make the recipe
- Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Pour half of the water to another small bowl. Soak almonds, pistachios and cashews in one bowl. Soak chironji seeds in another bowl.
- After 30 mins, drain the hot water and pour cold water in both the bowls.
- Meanwhile chop the dates to bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Drain the water completely and peel the almonds and pistachios. Discard the skin and soak them in fresh room temperature water for at least 1 to 2 hours.
- Drain the water from the chironji seeds and transfer them to a clean cloth. Pat them dry and rub gently. The skin begins to peel off. Discard the skin and any brown seeds that seem to be rancid. Keep the seeds in a small bowl and set aside.
- When the nuts are soaked well after 1 to 2 hours, chop them very finely. Keep them aside. Ensure the nuts are dry before frying them.
- Fine vermicelli is usually long and not broken. You will need to break them a bit and measure 1 cup (50 grams) and keep aside.
How to make sheer khurma
- Heat 2 tbsps ghee in a heavy bottom pot. Fry cashews and almonds in hot ghee for about 1 to 2 mins.
- Then add pistachios and chironji seeds. Fry all of them until crisp and golden. This takes about 5 to 6 mins as the nuts are soaked. When done, remove to a plate.
- To the same pot, add dates and fry until they begin to smell good. Remove to a plate.
- Pour 1 tbsp more ghee and add the seviyan. Saute on a low to medium heat until golden. Remove to a plate and keep aside.
- To the same pot, pour 4 cups milk and bring it to a boil on a medium to low heat.
- When the milk begins to boil, add the roasted vermicelli, half of the fried nuts, chironji seeds and dates.
- Stir and cook until the vermicelli is cooked. You have to keep stirring every few mins to avoid the milk scorching. This took about 10 mins on a medium heat.
- Add cardamom powder & sugar or condensed milk (optional). If using mawa (optional) add it now.
- Simmer for a few more minutes until slightly thick yet runny. Sheer khurma will thicken upon cooling so turn off when it is of runny consistency. Add cardamom powder & rose water (optional).
- Serve warm or chilled. Garnish with fried nuts, chironji seeds and dates.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- Pat dry the soaked nuts and seeds before frying as they will splatter when added to hot oil.
- If you prefer to use saffron, soak a few strands in hot milk. Add it along with sugar.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
Sheer khurma recipe is from the Archives, first published in July 2015. Republished in May 2020.
1.Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a bowl or pot. Pour the water to 2 bowls. Soak almonds, pistachios and cashews in one bowl for 30 mins. Similarly soak chironji seeds in another bowl for 30 mins.
2. Drain the water from both the bowl and rinse them in cold water. Drain the water completely. Peel the skin of the almonds and pistachios. Add all of them back to the same bowl and soak for 1 to 2 hours.
3. Add the drained chironji seeds to a clean cloth and rub them gently. The skin from the seeds will peel off easily. If you find any discoloured seeds discard them as most times rancid seeds get discoloured. Soak the seeds back in regular water for 1 to 2 hours.
4.Meanwhile chop the dates to bite seized pieces. Set aside. Drain the water from the nuts and seeds completely. Slice the nuts thinly. Keep these aside.
5.Heat a heavy bottom pot with 2 tbsps ghee. When the ghee turns hot, add almonds and cashews. Fry them for 1 to 2 mins and then add the chiroli and pistachios.
6.Saute all of them until crisp and lightly golden. This takes a little longer than roasting the regular nuts as these are soaked here. Remove to a plate and set aside.
7. To the same pot, add dates and saute until you begin to smell them good. Transfer them to a plate.
8. Add 1 more tbsp ghee and add seviyan. Fry them on a medium heat until golden. If using preroasted vermicelli like me, then it only needs about 30 to 50 seconds to coat them in ghee. Be careful as the fine vermicelli tends to burn faster. Remove to a plate.
How to make
10. Pour milk to the same pot and bring it to a boil on a medium to low flame. Leaving a ladle in the pot will prevent the milk from overflowing.
11. Next when the milk begins to boil, add roasted vermicelli and half of the fried nuts, seeds and dates.
12. Stir well and simmer until the vermicelli is soft and cooked. This took about 10 mins for me on a medium flame. Keep stirring once in every few minutes to prevent the milk getting burnt at the bottom.
13. Add cardamom powder and sugar or condensed milk at this stage. If using mawa, add it too now. I used only sugar here.
14. Next mix and continue to simmer for another 3 to 5 mins until slightly thick yet runny. Sheer khurma will thicken upon cooling so turn off when it is of runny consistency. Add rose water if using.
After simmering for a while it turns thicker, aromatic and deeper in color. Serve it warm or chilled. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts, seeds and dates over the sheer khurma before serving.