Boil the sweet potatoes until they are soft just as you would potatoes. Remove the skins and mash them fine.
Add the sweet potato mash to cold milk in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Stir continuously as it gets heated to prevent the sweet potato from sticking to the bottom of the pan. (disaster!)
Reduce heat and cook the milk till it reduces in quantity to about half. The measure of doneness is when the milk has thickened considerably and the colour has changed to a golden yellow (1.5 to 2 hours). Keep stirring the mixture every few minutes.
Add the sugar, cardamom powder and saffron strands and cook for another 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and mix in the kewra water.
Take out the kheer in a dish and garnish with slivered pistachios, almonds and more saffron if you wish. Serve cold.
If you want to make sure the kheer is smooth and lump-free, puree the boiled sweet potatoes in a blender along with some milk till you get a puree. Then, add this puree to the pan of milk.
Kewra water is an extract from pandanus flowers. A clear, fragrant liquid, it is very similar to rose water, and is used for flavouring desserts and biryanis in North Indian cuisine. It is readily available in Indian grocery stores.
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