Sheera (also spelled shirra) is one of the most common desserts of India.
Sheera can be eaten as a snack, after dinner, or even breakfast.
It’s also known by several other names such as kheer, khichri, khoa, and chitkada.
In fact, it is believed that sheera originated from the ancient Sanskrit word “khichari” which means cooked flour.
This dish was once used to feed poor people who were unable to afford grains.
What Is Sheera?
Sheera is an extremely sweet dessert with a smooth texture and nutty flavor.
The main ingredient is semolina, which comes from durum wheat.
Semolina gives the dessert its unique taste and texture.
Alongside semolina, sheera has added sugar, ghee, and milk.
These three ingredients make up for almost 90% of the recipe.
There’s no doubt that these three things play a crucial role in making this dessert so delicious!
In addition to the above-mentioned ingredients, sheera includes raisins, almonds, pistachios, dates, cashews, walnuts, and various spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, ginger, etc.
However, there are different variations based on region and culture.
If you want to try something new, experiment with your favorite flavors.
Flavor options in sheera
- Almond – almond milk and sugar syrup topped with sliced almonds
- Cashew – cashew milk and sugar syrup topped with chopped roasted cashews
- Coconut – coconut milk and sugar syrup topped with shredded coconut
- Pistachio – pistachio milk and sugar syrup topped with whole pistachios
- Raisin – raisin milk and sugar syrup topped with raisins
How to prepare sheera
First, take some water and put it into a pan over medium heat.
Add 2 cups of semolina along with 1 cup of milk and a pinch of salt.
Stir continuously until everything gets well mixed together.
Now add 4 tablespoons of melted butter and mix it all thoroughly.
Once combined, set aside.
Next, bring another pot of water to boil.
When it starts boiling, reduce the temperature to low and place a bowl inside the pot.
You need to wash out another bowl before using it because sheera tends to get slimy when left sitting overnight.
After washing both bowls, pour half of the sheera mixture into each bowl.
Then, cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit at room temperature overnight.
After 24 hours have passed, carefully remove the bowls from the oven.
Let cool down completely before serving.
The next day, you will see two thin layers forming around the top.
Remove the plastic wrap and flip both sides onto a plate.
Serve immediately because they go bad very quickly if left uneaten.
What Are The Ingredients In Sheera?
The traditional recipe for sheera consists of only four basic ingredients – milk, sugar, ghee, and semolina.
However, there are slight variations in different regions of India where certain spices like cardamom powder, saffron, pistachios, almonds, raisins, and coconut may sometimes be added.
- Semolina – The main ingredient in sheera is semolina which is a coarsely ground wheat-based product.
- Semolina acts as a thickening agent because when mixed with hot water, this substance forms a paste.
- Milk – Milk is essential for making sheera since it provides sweetness and moisture to the finished dish.
- Some recipes call for more than 5 cups of milk per batch while others use just 1 cup.
- But no matter how much milk is used, it has to be boiled along with the semolina.
- You will need about 2 liters of whole milk for every 4 cups of semolina required.
- Sugar – Sugar adds a bit of flavor and helps to balance out the acidity produced by the semolina.
- One cup of granulated white sugar is enough for an entire batch of sheera.
- Ghee – Ghee contains high amounts of fat and thus makes sheera rich and creamy.
- Ghee is the clarified butter taken directly off the cow udder at the end of milking process.
- As a result, its aroma and taste varies depending on the type of animal that gave birth to the udders.
- Topping Ingredients – These include chopped nuts or dried fruits like almonds, cashews, walnuts, raisins, and dates.
- They add crunchiness to the final dish and bring out the flavors of the underlying ingredients.
(Note: If you cannot find any of these ingredients locally, you can substitute them with powdered milk instead.)
How Do You Make Sheera?
The basic steps for making sheera are:
- Soak wheat grain overnight in water.
- The next morning, grind soaked wheat into fine powder using an electric grinder or blender.
- Add ground wheat to boiling milk along with salt and cardamom pods.
- Cook until thickened.
- Pour this mixture onto a greased baking tray and let cool completely before serving.
There are different variations to the above method depending on the region and preference of the cook.
For example, some cooks add raisins while others use almonds instead of walnuts.
What Is The History Of Sheera?
The first written references about sheera dates back to 14th century in the book called Manasollasa.
The author of this book wrote that sheera was created during the reign of Alauddin Khilji in 1296 AD.
According to him, he had an old woman named Bibi Mehtab prepare this sweet dish for his court.
However, some historians believe that sheera might have been around since much earlier than that.
They think that this dessert could have existed during the time of Mughal emperor Akbar’s rule in 1556 AD.
During that period, Akbar would give herera to all those who came into his presence.
According to the same sources, sheera became very famous during the reign of Aurangzeb when he gave herera to anyone who visited his palace.
That’s when the name of sheera got changed to khichri.
During British rule, sheera was considered a part of royal cuisine.
Queen Victoria herself loved this dish so much that whenever she went on vacation, she ordered her cooks to create something similar to it.
Even though they couldn’t produce exactly the same taste, the queen was pleased enough with their efforts not to complain.
- 1 cup semolina
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup milk
- A pinch of saffron threads
First, soak the semolina in water overnight.
After that, drain the excess moisture and then grind it using a grinder.
Next, add the remaining ingredients into the ground mixture and mix well until you get a smooth paste.
Add more water if needed.
You should end up having a thick batter consistency.
Make sure you don’t leave any lumps in your sheera batter.
Now pour the batter into small cups, place them on a baking tray, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
After that, let cool down for 5 minutes before serving.
What Are The Different Types Of Sheera?
Sheera recipes vary depending on where in India they are prepared.
Most commonly, sheera is made using maida or wheat flour.
But there are some variations like making sheera with rice flour, jowar dal, and ragi flour too.
There are two main types of sheera based on how much water is added during cooking.
The first type of sheera has less than half an inch of liquid while the second type has more than half an inch of water.
Some people prefer not adding any water at all when preparing this dessert.
- Thakali sheera – Also called makhani sheera, thakali sheera uses only raw milk for its preparation.
- Thakali sheera is generally considered among the best dishes in India.
- Kadhi sheera – Kadhi sheera is a special kind of sheera made with coconut milk.
- It is typically served warm and topped with cardamom powder and saffron strands.
- People love eating kadhi sheera because of the creamy texture and sweetness of the coconut milk.
- Pista sheera – Pista sheera is another variation of sheera that uses cow’s urine instead of water for its preparation.
- You may find this version of sheera served at weddings and festivals.
- Chikki sheera – Chikki sheera is a popular sweet treat made with ground almonds and pistachios.
- It is similar to halwa but with a crunchy outer layer.
- Mawa sheera – Mawa sheera is a traditional sweet made with a mixture of condensed milk and cream.
- It is traditionally served cold.
- Gulab jamun – Gulab jamun is a soft ball-shaped cake usually filled with rosewater soaked gulab jamuns.
- They are very delicious and make great gifts!
The base ingredients needed to prepare sheera include powdered sugar, milk, butter, and water.
Sugar syrup is one of the important components of sheera recipes.
This is basically a thickened form of sugar syrup that has been heated up until it becomes golden brown.
How Do You Serve Sheera?
The traditional way of serving sheera is in a bowl and topped with nuts or raisins.
You could also opt for a scooped out version of this dessert.
- Add 1 tablespoon of milk, almond or pistachio paste, and cardamom powder into a pan on medium heat.
- Stir well until the mixture starts boiling.
- Slowly add 3 cups of water and stir continuously till all water evaporates and the mixture thickens.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of butter with 4 teaspoons of sugar and then pour over the thickened mass.
- Let simmer for 5 minutes before adding 6 cups of whole wheat flour and kneading gently.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into balls and flatten them slightly so they don’t stick together when placed side-by-side.
- Heat up an iron skillet on high heat.
- Place half of the flattened roll at one end of the skillet and spread a little oil around it.
- Repeat until there are six rolls in total.
- Cook the rolls on both sides until golden brown.
- Serve warm along with some saffron infused syrup drizzled over them.
You could try these tips if you want to make delicious sheera recipes
- Do not place the rolled out dough directly onto the hot surface because it will burn easily.
- Make sure your skillet is clean and greased properly before using it.
- To prevent sticking, lightly dust the rolled out dough with cornstarch.
- Roll the flattened dough very thinly.
- If it gets too thick, place back into the refrigerator while rolling out again.
- When frying the rolls, keep a close eye on them and adjust the temperature accordingly.
- Don’t fry more than two batches of rolls at once.
- Once the first batch is done, let it cool down completely before proceeding to cook another batch.
- If you use a gas stove, turn off the flame immediately after you take the dish off the burner.
What Are The Benefits Of Sheera?
The following are some of the main reasons why so many Indians love this meal:
- Low-calorie treat: The sheera is low in calories because of its high content of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, calcium, iron, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, zinc, folic acid, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and selenium.
- Healthy fat source: Sheera contains healthy fat sources like olive oil and almonds.
- Vegetarian option: You don’t need to worry about being vegetarian when eating sheera since it doesn’t contain meat ingredients.
- Nutritious cereal: Since sheera is made up of cereals such as wheat, cornflour, rice, and barley, it provides your body with nutrients including protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, phytosterols, flavonoids, phenolics, and amino acids.
- Easy to prepare: Unlike other dishes, sheera requires very little preparation time.
- All you have to do is boil water, add the required amount of ingredients, mix them together, cook for 10 minutes, and then pour on top of a serving plate.
- Dish that helps digestion: Sheera is rich in insoluble dietary fibers called resistant starch which makes it an excellent food for helping to improve digestive health.
- Highly nutritious: Sheera is packed with essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, calcium, iron, vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, biotin, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, manganese, chromium, fluoride, iodine, molybdenum, and selenium.
- A good way to start your day: Eating sheera will help you get enough energy throughout the morning hours while providing you with plenty of nutrition.
There are more than just these reasons why you should try out making sheera at home.
Here are few other benefits of this dessert:
- You can make sheera with whatever vegetables and fruits you want.
- You can eat sheera plain, but if you prefer something different, you can always add some fresh grated ginger, chopped cashews, raisins, pistachios, or walnuts to your bowl of sheera.
- You can use any type of milk as suggested by your taste buds.
- If you like sweet stuff, then you can add honey or jam to your sheera instead of sugar.
- Sheera is perfect for kids too! If you are looking to give your children some healthy snacks, then you can make sheera using wholewheat pasta and freeze them before cutting into small pieces.
What Are The Side Effects Of Sheera?
While there might not be any medical conditions associated with eating sheera, it may have some health risks if consumed in large quantities over time.
The following tips will help you determine how much your body can handle before consuming too much sheera.
- Limit yourself to 1 cup per day for adults.
- If you consume more than this amount, you risk developing diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, and hypertension.
- Consume sheera only occasionally.
- Consuming sheera on a daily basis can increase your chances of becoming obese and suffering from weight gain.
- If you already suffer from diabetes, keep an eye out for symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, fatigue, numbness, tingling, skin ulcers, or infections around your eyes, mouth, or genitals.
- Avoid consuming sheera during pregnancy because it has been linked to low birth weight babies.
- You should avoid sheera if you have allergies or sensitivities to gluten, dairy products, eggs, lactose, peanuts, tree nuts, soybeans, sesame seeds, wheat, yeast, corn, sulfites, monosodium glutamate, or MSG.
- As part of a healthy diet, limit your intake of saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium.
- Do not eat excessive amounts of sheera at once.
- This could cause stomach pain, diarrhea, cramps, nausea, bloating, gas, constipation, headache, dizziness, weakness, fainting, or vomiting.
Healthy alternatives to sheera
Here are some healthier recipes that can replace sheera in your meal plan:
Kheer is similar to sheera but uses rice instead of semolina.
You can make kheer using either whole-grain brown basmati rice or white pearl rice.
To prepare kheer, follow these steps:
- Combine 2 cups water and 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan.
- Add 1 cup uncooked rice.
- Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until all liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes.
- Let the rice cool down completely before adding 4 cups full-fat milk.
- Stir well while heating gently over medium-high heat.
- When the milk starts boiling again, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add ½ tablespoon cardamom powder.
- Stir well for 10 seconds and serve warm topped with chopped almonds.
Khoa is a traditional South Asian sweet made with ground lentils.
You can use red split peas or yellow mung beans to prepare this delicious treat.
Follow these easy steps to get started making khoya:
- In a bowl combine ¼ cup each dry split peas and yellow mung beans.
- Pour enough water into a small pot to cover the ingredients.
- Bring the pot to a boil.
- Once the water boils, let it simmer for 30 minutes without stirring.
- After 30 minutes drain excess water.
- Return the pot to stovetop and place back on heat.
- Add ½ cup sugar and stir constantly until the mixture thickens up.
- Allow the mixture to cool slightly before mixing in ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Store the cooled khoya in jars or containers.
Chitkada is a spicy pudding made with besan (chickpea flour).
Traditionally, chitkadas are prepared with coconut oil, jaggery (crude palm sugar), and rosewater.
However, these days you can find many different versions online.
The easiest way to prepare chitkada is to mix chickpea flour, desiccated coconut, salt, sugar, and hot water together.
Once everything comes together, pour the batter onto a greased baking tray and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.
How Do You Store Sheera?
As mentioned earlier, sheera is a very versatile food item.
You can eat this delicious dessert for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
However, there are some things you need to keep in mind before storing your sheera at home.
- You should not use plastic containers when storing sheera because they will absorb moisture from the air.
- Instead, opt for glass or ceramic jars, Tupperware, or any kind of baking container.
- Store your sheera in an open space so that the humidity doesn’t affect its texture.
- If you have a kitchen cabinet, then put it on top shelf.
- Keep your sheera away from direct sunlight or heat sources since these elements could dry out the product.
- If possible, avoid refrigerating your sheera.
- The cold temperature would cause the sheera to freeze into hard blocks instead of melting into liquid consistency like normal desserts.
- To prevent mold growth, always cover your sheera with an airtight lid while refrigerated.
Storing sheera in the fridge
This method is recommended if you make sheera once every week or two.
- Take out your sheera and place it onto a plate or bowl using a spatula.
- Make sure to spread all over the surface evenly.
- Cover your sheera with cling wrap or aluminum foil to seal it completely.
- Then, stick it inside the refrigerator.
- Check back again in 2-4 hours.
- Afterward, remove your sheera from the refrigerator and let it cool down at room temperature until it reaches room temperature.
- Once it has cooled down, take off the foil or cling wrap and enjoy!
Storing sheera in the freezer
If you want to save time whenever possible, this might be the best option for you.
- Prepare your sheera according to step 1 above.
- Place your sheera into a large rectangular container (or any type of baking tray).
- Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to protect the sheera from light exposure.
- Put it directly into the freezer compartment of your refrigerator.
- Check back within 24 hours.
- Remove your sheera from the freezing compartment and allow it to thaw at room temperature until it melts into liquid form.
How Long Does Sheera Last?
If you have leftover sheera, then it will keep well in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
If you want to freeze it, then wrap tightly in plastic film and place into a freezer bag and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Once defrosted, reheat on low heat until warm before serving.
The best way to serve sheera is piping hot.
You should prepare this dessert at least two days ahead so all the flavors are fully developed.
Also, make sure it has cooled completely before storing in an airtight container.
The longer you let your sheera cool down, the better it tastes!
- 1 Pan
- 1 cup Semolina
- 1/2 cup Ghee
- 2 1/2 cups Milk
- 5-6 strands Saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 1/2 cup Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Almonds
- 2 tablespoons Cashewnuts
- In a non-stick pan, warm the ghee. Semolina should be added and slowly roasted until aromatic.
- In a different nonstick pan, warm the milk.
- Semolina is mixed with milk, saffron, and cardamom powder before being covered and cooked for five minutes over low heat.
- Mix, add sugar, cover, and simmer until sugar is melted. Almonds and cashews are next added, and the heat is turned off.
- Serve hot with cashew and almond garnish.