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Yield: 3 cups.

4 cups milk

1/4 cup Indian basmati rice, rinsed well and drained

1/2 teaspoon sliced almonds, plus more for optional garnish

1/4 teaspoon ground green cardamom (see note)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon flaked coconut, plus more for optional garnish

Chopped pistachio nuts, for garnish

Bring milk to a boil over medium heat, watching carefully to prevent boiling over and scorching. Add rice; cook until slightly thickened, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in almonds, cardamom, sugar and coconut. Serve hot or cold. Garnish with pistachios, and, if desired, almonds and coconut.

PER ( 1/2-CUP) SERVING: 184 calories; 6g fat (29 percent calories from fat); 3.5g saturated fat; 22mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 26.5g carbohydrate; 20g sugar; 0.5g fiber; 81mg sodium; 195mg calcium; 250mg potassium.

Note: Only green cardamom, available in many Asian, Indian and natural-food markets, will give the kheer its distinctive fragrance and delicate flavor. (White or black preground cardamom does not have the same scent or flavor.) To grind, place about 5 of the green pods in a mortar and mash with a pestle, or use a glass bowl and the back of a spoon. The small seeds inside can be pulverized easily. Include the green outer shell, which dissolves in the kheer. Prepare only what you need, as the flavor dissipates quickly after grinding.