Sweet potato kheer or shakarkandi ki kheer is a rich and fragrant dessert made in the instant pot with sweet potatoes, whole milk, sugar, cardamom, saffron, and nuts. It is decorated with rose petals for a festive touch. Serve chilled!
Sweet potato kheer is a very traditional, very decadent dessert, also called shakarkandi ki kheer (shakarkandi - sweet potato). It reminds me of long-ago, lavish dinners hosted by my mother when every item on the menu was a classic, painstakingly and lovingly prepared by her.
Dessert was almost as important as the main meal and always consisted of time-honoured preparations like kheer, halwa or kulfi. These were not instant, readily-made dishes conjured out of a packet or a tin. They took time and effort and imagination, and the results were outstanding as well.
And why not? When you have ingredients like whole milk, sweet potatoes, nuts, cardamom and saffron, you can't go wrong. I also like to add dried rose petals as a garnish as they add a festive little touch to the kheer.
Why this recipe works
This recipe works because I have found a way to reduce the cooking time considerably and enhance the taste of the kheer.
For context, kheer made of sweet potatoes takes a LONG time to thicken on the stovetop, as in two to three hours. And you can't walk away because the milk is either going to boil over or stick to the bottom, yikes! Since I just don't have the patience to hover around for so long, I decided to put my trusty instant pot to good use here.
I cooked the milk and sweet potato puree for 30 minutes on porridge mode, and then switched to the sauté mode to cook the kheer for another 30 minutes. Voila! In one hour, out of which you basically don't do anything for 30 minutes, your kheer is ready.
And if you're wondering why the kheer is such an intense orange color, it's because the sweet potatoes I used were dark orange to begin with. Then, there is the saffron that adds a yellow-orangish hue to anything it's added to. And finally, cooking the milk and sweet potatoes under pressure deepens the colors already present in the ingredients. What you get in the end is a bright caramel-hued, super-tasty kheer. Win-win!
Note: exact amounts are mentioned in the recipe card further down.
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole fresh milk
- Cardamom seeds, freshly ground - put the seeds in a mortar and pestle and grind them, or use a dry spice grinder.
- Saffron - use good quality saffron for a rich colour and taste.
- White sugar
- Nuts - slivered almonds and pistachios.
- Kewra water - a fragrant extract of pandanus flowers, available in Indian and Pakistani groceries. If you want, you can use rose water as a good substitute.
- Dried rose petals (optional) - also available in Indian and Pakistani groceries.
How to make sweet potato kheer
Time needed: 30 minutes
1. Boil the sweet potatoes
- Put the sweet potatoes in the steel insert of your instant pot and add water to cover them.
- Pressure cook on high for 8 minutes, then release the pressure after 10 minutes.
- Take the sweet potatoes out of the water and remove the skins.
- Using a fork, mash the flesh. Don't be too bothered here to mash it very fine as it is going to get pureed anyway in the next step.
2. Puree the mashed sweet potatoes
- Transfer the sweet potato mash back to the instant pot and pour half a cup milk or water.
- Using an immersion blender (affiliate link), blend the mash until it is quite smooth. Get rid of all the lumps while pureeing it. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can do this step in a regular blender too.
3. Add the rest of the milk and pressure cook the mixture
- Tip in the rest of milk, mix well using a large spoon, and set the instant pot to porridge mode (30 minutes). Walk away.
- When the pot beeps, wait for a natural release of pressure, then remove the lid.
4. Cook the milk and sweet potato mixture on sauté
- Press the sauté button (high) and cook the milk and sweet potato mixture until it thickens, stirring frequently. This should take between 30-40 minutes.
- When you see that the mixture has become thick, add the sugar, saffron, and powdered cardamom, and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Finally, cancel sauté and take out the kheer in a bowl. Add the kewra water if using, stir, and allow the kheer to cool down. Keep the bowl in the fridge for at least 3 hours and garnish with slivered almonds, pistachios, and rose petals before serving.
If you don't have an instant pot, this recipe can be made on the stovetop. After all, people like my mother and grandmother used to make it without the help of modern appliances, and they managed quite well. You will need to be patient though, as it does take time. The steps are very straightforward:
- Boil the sweet potatoes in an open saucepan until they are soft, just like you would prep potatoes for making mashed potatoes.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and mash them with a fork. Then, transfer to a blender and add ½ cup water or milk. Blend to a smooth puree and transfer the mashed sweet potatoes to a large saucepan. Add the milk and stir the contents well, making sure the sweet potato mash is well-mixed with the milk. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring all the time so that mash doesn't stick to the bottom and the milk doesn't boil over.
- Lower the heat to medium, and cook the mixture until it thickens and loses its watery texture. This is the most time-consuming step in the whole process as the milk can take a long time (around 2 hours) to reduce in quantity. You need to keep stirring the mixture from time to time while it reducing.
- Once you see the mixture becoming thick, add the sugar, saffron, and cardamom, and cook for 5 minutes more. Take out the shakarkand kheer in a bowl and add the kewra water. Allow it to cool down. Sprinkle with the slivered almonds and pistachios and decorate with rose petals if using. Keep the bowl in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.
More Indian desserts
- Shahi Tukre - A classic dessert made on special occasions. Bread slices are fried and soaked first in a sugar syrup, then milk and cream, and topped with nuts.
- Fruit Custard - Seasonal fruit like apple, grapes, mango, banana, pomegranate and berries are dipped in a thick, smooth and creamy vanilla custard sauce sweetened with honey. The perfect easy dessert.
- Coconut Burfi - A fudge-like sweet made of desiccated coconut, fresh and condensed milk, and ghee. Always a hit during the festive season!
- Rasmalai Cake - A soft and spongy cake drizzled with a very special sauce called rabri.
- Besan Halwa - A gluten-free halwa made of roasted chickpea flour, milk, jaggery, and ghee.
Sweet Potato Kheer
- 6-quart Instant Pot Duo
- Immersion/stick blender OR stand blender
- 9 ounces sweet potatoes 2 medium
- 9 cups whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon saffron
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ½ teaspoon green cardamom deseeded and crushed into a powder
- ½ teaspoon kewra water extract of pandanus flowers
- 15 almonds slivered
- 10 pistachios slivered
- 1 tbsp dried rose petals for garnishing, optional
- Put the sweet potatoes in the steel insert of your instant pot and add water to cover them. Secure the lid and make sure the steam release valve is sealed. Press the pressure cooking button (high), and set the timer for 8 minutes. Once the timer beeps, release the pressure after 10 minutes. Take out the sweet potatoes from the water and remove the skins. Using a fork, mash the soft flesh.
- Transfer the sweet potato mash back to the instant pot and pour half a cup milk or water. Using an immersion blender, blend the mash until it is quite smooth. Get rid of all the lumps while pureeing it. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can do use a regular blender too.
- Add in the rest of milk, mix well using a large spoon, and set the instant pot to porridge mode (30 minutes). Walk away. When the pot beeps, wait for a natural release of pressure, then remove the lid.
- Press the sauté button (high) and cook the milk and sweet potato mixture until it reduces and thickens, stirring frequently (30-40 minutes). Add the sugar, saffron, and powdered cardamom, and cook for 5 minutes more. Cancel sauté.
- Take out the kheer in a bowl. Add the kewra water if using, stir, and allow the kheer to cool down. Keep the bowl in the fridge for at least 3 hours and garnish with slivered almonds, pistachios, and rose petals before serving.
- Kewra water is an extract of pandanus flowers. A clear, fragrant liquid, it is used for flavoring desserts and biryanis in North Indian cuisine. It is readily available in Indian or Pakistani grocery stores. You can substitute it with rose water if you wish.
- For stovetop instructions, see the body of the post - Stovetop Option.