Besan Kheer

besan kheerMay I call it the perfect south Indian version of Phirni? Maybe yes, because, the way we prepare this is exactly like Phirni, except for the fact that in Besan Kheer, we add roasted besan (Bengal gram flour) instead of rice flour. Besan Kheer or Kadala Maavu Paayasam, as it is called in Tamil Nadu (India), is a very traditional recipe. Kadala maavu is Bengal gram flour and paayasam is the thinner, lighter version of kheer (a form of pudding). This dish bowls me over with the ease with which it can be prepared, almost instantaneous, and I believe that’s the reason it is popular. The flavour of besan is too good to resist in this dish.


  • Bengal gram flour: 2 tbl spoons
  • Milk: ½ litre
  • Sugar: 2 cups (or as per taste)
  • Cardamom powder: a pinch
  • Clarified butter (ghee): 1 tbspoon
  • Cashew nuts: a few, roasted (to garnish)

Take ghee in a pan and heat it. Add the flour and roast it till it gives out a nice aroma and changes slightly in colour. Boil milk, add sugar and reduce slightly. Add the roasted flour to the milk and keep stirring till you get the required consistency. Garnish with roasted cashew nuts. Simply irresistible!

besan kheer 2

The success of any dish is as much in the quality of ingredients as in the way you cook them. With good ingredients, half your job is done. Seriously!

So starting from this post, I am planning to include some information about ingredients, like how they are to be selected, and stored for maximum shelf life.

Bengal gram is the lentil (split and hulled) variety from chickpea.

chickpea and bengal gram

Besan is best made at home by cleaning and powdering Bengal gram. But if you don’t have that facility, go ahead and buy the readymade flour off the shelf. Just check the date of manufacture and expiry. Always store Bengal gram flour (besan) in the freezer compartment. You can take as much flour as you want for a single use and store the rest in the same packing, tightly sealed either with a clip or a band.

If you are buying Bengal gram (lentil), see to it that it is fresh. To check for freshness, slightly shake the pack; it should sound crisp. Do not buy if:

  • You see any powder residue on the inside of the pack.
  • You see holes in the lentils.
  • They look bright and shiny. The lentils are processed to remove their skins and polished to increase shelf life. So if you see them bright and shiny, it doesn’t mean that they are good. It just means that they are highly processed.
  • You see bugs crawling around the inside of the pack. Obvious, isn’t it? But since I’m making a ‘do not buy’ list, I had to include this one too.

The lentils are at their best when in dull yellowish mustard colour. Always store lentils in a clean, dry container. Never use a wet hand or spoon. Moisture allows the growth of bugs and insects.

Know your Ingredient! (Bengal gram flour)

Type Lentil
Form Powder
Storage Best refrigerated or frozen in airlock covers or containers
Usage Use a dry spoon/hand at all times
Tip If it has to be stored at room temperature, one or two dry red chillies (whole) added to the pack/container will keep it bug free for a long time

2 thoughts on “Besan Kheer

    • I’m sure Bengalis would have spread the word down south. I use this tip very often in my kitchen. Do keep coming back. I have a regular write up on how to buy and store ingredients. Thoughts from people like you would really help 🙂

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