Sheer khurma (also called doodh seviyaan) is a popular milk-based Eid dessert in Pakistan and India. It is made with thin vermicelli noodles (known as seviyaan) cooked in milk with dates and flavored with cardamom and roasted nuts.
There are many ways to make sheer khurma, with every household putting their own twist to the recipe. This recipe is the traditional Pakistani sheer khurma made by slow cooking the milk till it is rich and creamy, and then sweetened with sugar.
Sheer khurma is one of my favourite Eid traditions. My mother would make a huge dish of it for Eid breakfast, keeping it warm on the stove. After my father and brothers would come back from Eid prayers, we would have breakfast, and then enjoy a bowl of warm sheer khurma.
We would then spend the day visiting relatives, exchanging Eid greetings. Every house that we went too, the standard staple on the Eid trolley was sheer khurma. Because nothing says Eid like a bowl of sheer khurma.
About this recipe
Sheer khurma is a must make recipe for the Muslim festival of Eid in Pakistan and India. It can be served hot or cold, depending on personal preference. In my house, it was always served hot.
It is also a popular dessert for parties / dawaat, or for when you are craving something sweet after dinner. The word “sheer” in Persian means milk and “khurma” means dates. That’s why the traditional recipe is always milk based, with dried dates added for flavor.
Sheer khurma is also called “doodh seviyaan” or just "seviyaan" for short because "doodh" means milk, and "seviyaan" means vermicelli, and this is a milk based dessert with vermicelli in it. However, sheer khurma or doodh seviyaan are different from the seviyaan ka halwa or seviyaan ka zarda. The latter being a dry-style dessert that is made by roasting vermicelli in ghee, sugar, and spices.
Why this recipe works
- It’s a simple and easy dessert to make that requires only a few basic ingredients. Milk is the only fresh ingredient in this recipe, otherwise all other ingredients are pantry staple items.
- Sheer khurma is a dessert that lends itself to many variations. Serve it hot or cold, flavour with cardamom or saffron, add raisins, or skip the raisins.
- This is the traditional Pakistani style of making sheer khurma where the milk is slow cooked and the dessert is sweetened with sugar.
- It’s got amazing depth of flavor, which comes from slow cooking the milk and then the subtle hit of flavor from the cardamom and the dried dates.
- Because it's delicious - think of it as a creamy milk based pudding, made with vermicelli instead of rice.
- Milk: For this recipe, it’s important to use full-fat milk. Preferably fresh, however, UHT / tetra pak milk can be used if fresh isn’t available. I like to use milk with full cream for a richer and creamier flavour.
- Vermicelli (Seviyaan): For this recipe, you will need fine and thin vermicelli. These are different from vermicelli pasta, and are usually marked as roasted vermicelli. Few brands have the vermicelli in the form of a coil, which needs to be crushed by hand. This is the option that I prefer because I prefer the small to medium strands in my sheer khurma. Other brands already have the vermicelli broken into small pieces. These are easily available at Pakistani, Indian and other South Asian stores especially in the month of Ramadan. The brands that I like to use are Shan and Ahmed.
- Sugar: Can be adjusted to taste.
- Dried dates: Known as chuwaray or chuara these dried dates are different from the soft ones. These are quite hard, and need to be soaked or cooked till they can be eaten. They add a subtle aroma and flavour to the sheer khurma. My preferred way of using these dried dates is to add them in the milk as it is heating so that they can impart their flavour into the milk as it cooks. By the time the sheer khurma they will have softened enough to eat. Most of the times they are discarded before serving.These are easily available at Indian and Pakistani stores. If not available, they can be substituted with soft dates such as Medjool dates. However, if using soft dates they need to be cooked for about 10 – 15 minutes only, otherwise they will disintegrate.
- Cardamom: Best to use freshly crushed cardamom to make this recipe.
- Nuts: Sliced almonds, and sliced pistachios are used to add flavour and crunch to this classic Pakistani Eid dessert.
- Ghee (clarified butter): The vermicelli and nuts are traditionally fried in ghee, however, if you don’t have ghee or don’t like the flavour of ghee, vegetable oil or butter can be used instead.
- Rose petals: Used for garnish - these are optional.
- Prepare the ingredients: Blanch the almonds in hot water to remove their skins. Let them cool, and then slice them thinly. Slice the pistachios, and crush the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle.
- Roast the vermicelli: Fry off the cardamom seeds, and the crushed vermicelli in ghee (or oil) till golden brown. Set them aside.
- Fry the nuts: In the same pan, add more ghee (or oil), and then fry of the sliced pistachios and almonds. Set the nuts aside.
- Boil the milk: Heat milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan or non-stick saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then add the dried dates (chuwaray). Turn heat to simmer, and then cook the milk for about an hour till it turns a pale cream colour. Make sure to stir every few minutes so the milk doesn’t burn.
- Add the vermicelli: Add the crushed cardamom seeds and the vermicelli to the milk, and cook till the vermicelli softens.
- Add the sugar: Once the vermicelli is soft, add sugar.
- Add the nuts: Add the fried nuts few minutes before serving.
- More milk or more vermicelli: I prefer sheer khurma with more milk and less vermicelli. That’s the way I grew up eating it, and has always carried a touch of nostalgia for me. If you prefer a more a thicker more rice pudding style consistency you can increase the quantity of vermicelli noodles.
- Hot or cold: Sheer khurma can be served hot or cold. The milkier version tastes best when it’s served hot.
- Add saffron: Saffron adds a delicious flavour, and adds a hint of colour to this classic Pakistani dessert. It can be used in conjunction with cardamom, or it can be used instead of cardamom.
- Switch up the milk: This recipe requires milk to be simmered for about an hour so that it turns rich and creamy. If you don’t have enough time or if you want an even richer creamier sheer khurma, you can add condensed milk, evaporated milk or cream. If using condensed milk, make sure to adjust the quantity of sugar.
- Other variations: Other variations to this recipe include flavoring it with coconut, raisins or sultanas, and adding rosewater.
Sheer khurma can be served warm or chilled. My personal preference is to serve it hot, right from the stove.
Leftover sheer khurma can be kept in the fridge for upto 3 days. It is a milk-based dessert so make sure to store it properly, else it can spoil. To reheat take out only the required amount and then reheat in the microwave or the stovetop.
- The base of the sheer khurma is milk, so it’s essential to get good quality fresh milk. Preferably one with full cream, as it’s richer and creamier. No fat-free or skim milk.
- Use the right pot. This recipe requires milk to be heated on a low heat for at least an hour. Make sure to use a heavy bottomed saucepan, or a non-stick saucepan, and stir regularly. Otherwise the milk may burn from the bottom, imparting a burnt flavour to the sheer khurma.
- Don’t skimp on the ghee when frying the vermicelli and nuts. The frying is necessary to release the flavour and aroma of the nuts.
- Don’t skip the dry dates (chuwaray). They can be a little difficult to find, but they do add a subtle flavour and distinctive aroma to the sheer khurma.
Is sheer khurma an Eid tradition in your household? How is it made at your place?
Other recipes that you can try for Eid can be:
- Eid cookies (including how to make an Eid cookie box)
- Yakhni Pulao (Mutton Pulao)
- Shahi Tukray
- Almond Cake
- Chana Daal Halwa
Would love it if you could try out and rate the recipe, and let me know how it was in the comments below!
Sheer Khurma | Eid Dessert
- 3 tablespoons almonds, sliced
- 3 tablespoons pistachios, sliced
- ½ packet vermicelli
- 4 - 6 cardamom pods elaichi
- 2 litres milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons ghee or oil
- 8 - 10 dry dates, de-seeded (also called chuwaray or chuara) - see note 1
- edible rose petals Optional (for garnish)
- Place the almonds in boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes. The hot water will help in releasing the skins. Peel the skins and slice the almonds lengthwise. Slice the pistachios lengthwise.
- Heat 2 tablespoons ghee / oil in a frying pan and add the sliced almonds and pistachios. Fry them off for 1 - 2 minutes till the flavours release and you can smell the aroma. Take the fried nuts off the heat and set aside.
- Crush the vermicelli into small pieces using your hands.
- Peel the cardamom pods, and remove the seeds (elaichi ke daane). Pound the cardamom seeds with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin, and keep aside.
- In the same saucepan in which you added the nuts, add a tablespoon of ghee and add the crushed cardamom. Cook for a minute till the flavour is released, and then add the crushed vermicelli. Fry it off for 1 - 2 minutes till the colour changes to a golden brown, and then set aside.
- Place milk in a large saucepan. Make sure the base is thick enough that the milk doesn’t burn at the bottom, or use a non-stick saucepan.
- Bring the milk to a boil, and then turn heat to low. Add the dried dates (chuwaray).
- Cook on slow heat for an hour stirring after 10 minutes or so to ensure the milk doesn’t burn. The milk colour will change from white to a pale yellow as it keeps cooking.
- Add the roasted vermicelli along with the cardamom seeds in the milk. Cook for about 10 minutes till the vermicelli becomes soft.
- Once the vermicelli is soft, add the sugar and cook for around 10 minutes till the sugar is dissolved. If using soft dates, they should be added at this stage with the sugar. Taste the sheer khurma and adjust sugar if needed.
- Add the fried almonds and pistachios. Cook for 2 minutes and serve right away in bowls. The dried dates (chuwaray) can be discarded before serving.
- Try not to skip the dry dates (chuwaray or chuara), as they add a subtle flavour and distinctive aroma to the sheer khurma. The dried dates can be found at Pakistani and Indian grocery stores. If not available, it's possible to use soft dates such as Medjool dates, but they should only be added in the last 10 - 15 minutes of cooking, as they will disintegrate.
- It's essential to get good quality fresh milk for this recipe. Preferably one with full cream, as it’s richer and creamier. No fat-free or skim milk.
- Use the right pot - either a heavy bottomed saucepan, or a non-stick pan. Stir regularly as well. This is to ensure that the milk doesn't burn.
- Don’t skimp on the ghee when frying the vermicelli and nuts.