20-Minute Seviyan (Sheer Khurma)
Here’s an easy Pakistani and Indian-style Seviyan (Sheer Khurma) recipe that takes around 20 minutes to make. This is a creamy and flavorful vermicelli pudding recipe that couldn’t be easier or more delicious. Perfect on its own or with extras like dried dates, raisins, or nuts. Tested to perfection!
“Perfectly timed recipe and quite delicious.”Afra
Seviyan or Sheer Khurma (vermicelli pudding) is a widespread Eid-ul-Fitr tradition for South Asians.
Growing up, a bite of it was compulsory before leaving for Eid prayer. But sentiments aside, I found most Seviyan to be a bit one-dimensional in taste. Given the option, I’d reach for Kheer.
Until last Eid, when my friend Sana, who blogs at The UnModern Woman, dropped off the most delightful Sheer Khurma. It was rich and creamy, yet runny enough to swirl around in a large Mason jar. Throughout the next day, I found myself sneaking cold spoonfuls from the fridge. Seviyan had potential after all.
What made her Sheer Khurma special was its less-seviyan, more-milky consistency. Sana generously shared her ratios with me, which I’ve used as inspiration to develop this recipe.
What are Seviyan?
The word ‘seviyan‘ itself refers to the South Asian-style vermicelli pasta used to make all types of desserts. Seviyan can be prepared dry (Sukhi Seviyan) or with milk (Doodh Seviyan/Seviyan Kheer or Sheer Khurma). In context, when I say Seviyan, I mean a milk-based toasted vermicelli pudding.
What is Sheer Khurma?
Sheer Khurma is a milk-based toasted vermicelli pudding often made with dried dates, nuts, and other flavorings.
In Farsi (Persian), ‘sheer‘ means milk and ‘khurma‘ means dates. Given the name and luxurious additions, it’s no surprise that Sheer Khurma has Persian roots, and has evolved into the vermicelli version as we know it.
Difference between Sheer Khurma and Seviyan
I perused cookbooks & blogs, surveyed my Instagram community, and talked to several people to figure out the difference between Sheer Khurma and Seviyan:
The main difference is that Sheer Khurma is generally more elaborate in its use of luxuries like dates and nuts, while Seviyan are simpler in its method and ingredients. That said, the interpretation of these dishes varies from household to household.
You could argue that without dates (khurma), it’s technically not Sheer Khurma. But in a recent Instagram poll, I found that about 60% of people do not add dates (whether dried or fresh) to their Sheer Khurma, but still refer to it as Sheer Khurma.
I grew up calling it Seviyan (which is what it’s typically called in Punjab). But I’d say my recipe’s method and richness is closer to Sheer Khurma than the simpler Seviyan.
Notes on the Ingredients
- Pakistani or Indian vermicelli (Seviyan) – To make this recipe, you need South Asian vermicelli used specifically for making Seviyan/Sheer Khurma. It’s finer than other vermicelli pastas. A few brands I’m familiar with are Ahmed Foods, National, and Shan. They’re often labeled as ‘Roasted Vermicelli’, but we’ll be toasting them anyway. (See note below on how to use gluten-free rice vermicelli.)
- Whole milk – I didn’t get a chance to test dairy-free options, but I think coconut milk would play well with the flavors.
- Heavy whipping cream – Heavy whipping cream, or Double Cream for those in the UK, is the magic ingredient that makes it possible to make a quick Sheer Khurma. Without cream, you’d have to spend time reducing down the milk to give it some depth. I’ve given the quantity of 1 1/4 cup, but you can play with this to see what your ideal creamy ratio is. Try 1 cup if you want it lighter (or don’t want to use more than an 8 oz box of heavy whipping cream), or up to 1 1/2 cup if you’d like it even richer.
- Butter, ghee, or oil – I’ve used just enough to coat the seviyan while toasting it. If using ghee, note that it may rise to the top of the Sheer Khurma.
- Green cardamom pods – I prefer not to bite into cardamom seeds in my seviyan, which is why I’ve used a good amount of the pods to give it flavor and scent. I break a few open to extract the flavor.
- Sugar or sweetener of choice – The amount of sugar I’ve added is the amount you’ll need if you use 1 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. If you use an extra 1/4 cup, increase sugar to taste.
- Blanched, slivered almonds – I buy these pre-made, but can do this yourself:
- Place raw almonds in a bowl with water and microwave them for 1 minute. Drain and rinse, then peel the skin and slice into slivers.
- Rose water or Kewra water – Both are diluted extracts that add a beautiful aroma to the finished dish. Each brand varies in strength, so adjust to taste.
How to make Seviyan (Sheer Khurma)
- 1. Boil milk – First, heat milk and heavy whipping cream in a nonstick saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. (Don’t worry – the milk will not stick as long as you’re using a nonstick pan.)
- 2. Toast Seviyan – Next, toast the vermicelli along with the cardamom pods for about 5 minutes. The color should change significantly, without burning it of course.
- 3. Combine – Add the toasted vermicelli to the simmering milk along with the sugar and any optional add-ins.
- 4. Boil together – Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir constantly for 5-6 minutes, until it starts to thicken. You’re simultaneously cooking the seviyan while reducing down the milk. The important thing here is to stop boiling when it’s runnier than you prefer. Once you turn off the heat, some vermicelli will rise to the top and stay there.
- 5. Garnish – Lastly, garnish with nuts and rose or kewra water.
How to add Dried Dates to Sheer Khurma
I experimented with adding dried dates (chuware) and was pleasantly surprised to find I actually enjoyed them. They impart a sweet, nuanced flavor to Sheer Khurma. If you’d like to add them, here’s what you’ll do:
- Soak 6-7 (~35-40 grams) dried dates in water overnight.
- Drain, pit, and chop them to your desired size. (It’ll come to about 1/3 cup)
- In a medium skillet, heat ghee or butter over medium heat. Toast, stirring often, for 7-8 minutes, until crisp.
- Add them to the milk once it begins to boil or along with the seviyan and other add-ins.
More Sheer Khurma Add-Ins
I’ve kept it simple and kid-friendly, but Sheer Khurma can be as elaborate as you’d like. Here are some add-ins you’ll find across regions. Most of them (except saffron) are typically soaked, then toasted with ghee before being added to the boiling milk.
- Golden Raisins
- More slivered almonds, chopped pistachios, or other chopped nuts (often referred to as dry fruit)
- Coconut flakes (khopra)
- Chironji/Charoli (melon seeds)
- Saffron – add a pinch toward the end
Tips and Notes
- The tip worth reiterating – To keep its runny texture, stop boiling when it’s runnier than you prefer. It’ll get much thicker when it cools. If you prefer less milk/more seviyan or if you’re serving it warm, then feel free to reduce it down more.
- The more it reduces down, the sweeter it gets. I suggest waiting until you’re finished boiling to adjust sweetness.
- You can always add more cold milk to cold seviyan, hot milk to hot seviyan, sugar, etc. to ‘fix’ the consistency or sweetness.
- If you’d like, you can toast the slivered almonds with a bit of butter on medium heat for about 3 minutes before beginning the recipe. I love adding toasted almonds along with the optional add-ins.
How to make Seviyan Gluten-Free
You can make a gluten-free version of Sheer Khurma by replacing wheat vermicelli with thin rice vermicelli. Here what you’ll do:
- Using scissors, break up the gluten-free vermicelli into small pieces.
- Toast the rice vermicelli for 10-12 minutes instead of 5-6 minutes. It should turn golden brown. Meanwhile, keep the milk simmering on low heat.
- Once you add it to the milk, follow the recipe and boil until cooked for about 5 minutes, until cooked through.
How to Serve Sheer Khurma
Sheer Khurma is usually served in a deep dish and ladled out into bowls. I prefer serving it cold, but I think it’d be delightful served warm in the winter.
More Dessert Recipes
If you get a chance to try this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! Simply leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. Thank you!
20-Minute Seviyan (Sheer Khurma)
- 4 cups (1 L) whole milk
- 1 1/4 cup (295-375 ml) heavy whipping cream , increase up to 1 ½ cup for richer sheer khurma
- 1-2 tsp butter, ghee, or oil, you'll only need 1 tsp if using nonstick
- 10-12 green cardamom pods, some slightly cracked open
- 50 g (1.75 oz or ~3/4 cup ) Pakistani or Indian vermicelli (seviyan), roughly broken up into small pieces (See Note 1)
- optional add-ins like toasted dried dates (chuware), toasted chopped nuts, etc., (See Note 2)
- 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp (83 g) cane sugar or sweetener of choice, or to taste (See Note 3)
- 1 tbsp blanched, slivered almonds, or more to taste
- 1 – 1 1/2 tsp rose water or kewra water, depending on strength
- Nonstick Saucepan
- Nonstick Skillet
- (Optional) If using dried dates or other optional add-ins, prepare them first. (See Note 2)
- In a medium nonstick Dutch oven or large nonstick saucepan, bring milk and heavy whipping cream to a boil. (Cover to encourage faster boiling.) Reduce to a simmer (medium heat on my stove) and stir occasionally so the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom. Proceed to next step, being careful not to let the milk boil over.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium to large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter/ghee or heat oil and add the cardamom and vermicelli. Toast, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes, until the vermicelli deepens in color and becomes aromatic. Turn off the heat.
- Add the toasted vermicelli, optional add-ins, and sugar to the simmering milk.
- Raise the heat to high to bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes. As soon as it starts to thicken, remove from heat. (It should be runnier than you prefer since it thickens greatly as it cools.) Once it settles down, the surface should still be largely milky with some vermicelli resting on top.
- Add the slivered almonds and rose/kewra water and stir. Serve hot or chilled (my preferred way). Garnish with additional nuts, if desired.