Basundi is a rich, creamy Indian dessert that’s made with milk and flavored with spices and dry fruits. My easy basundi recipe is ready in under 30 minutes thanks to a secret ingredient. I use sweetened condensed milk to prepare this wonderfully indulgent dish in a jiffy! Here you’ll find step-by-step instructions and photos to make the best (and fastest) basundi from scratch.
Table of Contents
Basundi is a popular dessert most commonly made in Western India, in such states as Maharashtra and Gujarat. It’s a bit similar to Rabdi, which is often served in North India.
Both are creamy milk-based dishes that feature fragrant spices and can be served warm or cold. However, while rabri has a thick and pudding-like consistency, basundi is much thinner and has a smoother flow.
Traditional basundi recipe requires you to simmer whole milk on a low heat for several hours. This recipe of mine is an easy basundi recipe and it can be prepared in only about 20 to 25 minutes. My secret is to add sweetened condensed milk to speed up the thickening process while still achieving just the right creaminess and rich flavor.
This recipe is enough to serve 4 people (and can be easily scaled up), so it’s perfect to serve for dessert at special occasions and gatherings. Plus it can be enjoyed any number of ways – hot, warm, or chilled!
In this updated version of the post, I have halved the ingredients of my original recipe that would make for about 8 servings. If you plan to make basundi for parties or pot lucks or for festivals like Diwali, then easily scale it up depending upon the number of servings you want to make.
How to make Basundi Recipe
1. Firstly, take ½ a can of condensed milk (200 grams) or ½ cup + 2 tablespoons in a heavy skillet or thick bottomed saucepan or kadai (wok).
2. Add 2 cups of whole milk. Do not use low-fat or skimmed milk.
NOTE: How much milk is needed depends on how much sugar is in the sweetened condensed milk you use. Start with 2 cups of milk, and add more as needed after the sweetened condensed milk has been added.
3. With a whisk mix well enough to combine the thick condensed milk with whole milk to get an even liquid.
The mixture should be even or else the condensed milk at the bottom can burn while cooking. So make sure there is no condensed milk at the bottom of the pan. All the condensed milk should be mixed with the milk.
Cook Basundi Mixture
4. Switch on the heat and keep it to a low.
5. Place pan on the stove-top and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir after intervals of 3 to 4 minutes on low heat.
Continue to stir often as you bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Be careful to not let the milk brown on the bottom of the pot.
As it cooks, use a rubber spatula or wooden spatula to scrape the sides of the pan and stir the milk solids back into the basundi mixture.
6. Meanwhile chop the nuts and set them aside. Add your choice of chopped nuts. My favorite nuts to include are: cashews, pistachios, almonds.
Here I have slivered 6 cashews, 10 pistachios and 8 almonds. You can add more or less of each of the nuts.
7. The basundi mixture will begin to thicken as you continue to cook it. After it simmers for 20 to 25 minutes the basundi should be slightly thick but smooth and creamy.
8. Add the slivered nuts.
9. Grate nutmeg to get a pinch of it or add a generous pinch of ground nutmeg powder.
10. Add ½ teaspoon cardamom powder (4 green cardamom pods, powdered in a mortar-pestle) and 10 to 12 strands of saffron. Also add 2 tablespoons of chironji (charoli seeds).
Make sure that the chironji are fresh and not rancid or tasting bitter. As they get rancid very quickly.
Chironji is also known as charoli and these small brown seeds give a lovely crunch and a nuttiness to this creamy dessert.
11. Stir to mix and simmer the basundi for another minute.
12. Transfer basundi to serving bowl/bowls. Serve this creamy dessert hot, warm or chilled garnished with some almond and pistachio slivers. If you plan to serve basundi cold, then cover the bowl or bowls and refrigerate for a few hours until the basundi becomes cold.
Store leftovers in the fridge for 2 to 3 days in a covered container or bowl. Enjoy basundi as it or with Puri (Indian fry bread).
Expert Tips & Variations
- Sweetness: The taste for sweetness is relative. With 2 cups milk, the basundi was slightly sweet for my taste, but my family found it perfect. So when the basundi is cooked, check the taste and if you find it a tad more sweet, add about ¼ cup warm or hot milk to lighten the sweeter taste.
- Cooking: It is important to stir the mixture often while simmering, so that the liquids do not become brown or burn at the bottom of the pan. So stir after intervals of 3 to 4 minutes while the liquids thicken.
- Chironji seeds: To get the authentic taste and flavor of the basundi, try to add chironji seeds. These tiny seeds add a good crunchy texture to the otherwise smooth and creamy consistency of the dish. Also make sure they are not rancid or tasting bitter.
- Flavoring spices: Do add the cardamom powder, but you can skip the saffron. Again for an authentic recipe, I would not suggest skipping nutmeg powder.
- Nuts: Choose to add nuts that are easily available to you. Cashews, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios are some nice options.
- Scaling: As is, this recipe has 3 to 4 servings. Basundi is usually served in small bowls. Scale the recipe easily to make 6 or 12 servings.
Yes, you can certainly use unsweetened condensed milk. Simply add sugar to taste as you simmer after adding the whole milk.
You can enjoy basundi as an after meal dessert or sweet. If you plan to serve the basundi warm, a side of fluffy and soft poori is a great option. It makes for a great festive dish that you can prepare quickly.
Keep homemade basundi in a sealed container for up to 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.
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- ½ can sweetened condensed milk – 200 grams or ½ cup + 2 tablespoons
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder or 4 to 5 green cardamoms, powdered in a mortar-pestle
- 6 cashews – slivered or chopped
- 10 pistachios – slivered or chopped, unsalted
- 8 almonds – slivered or chopped
- 10 to 12 saffron strands
- 2 to 3 pinches grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder
- 2 tablespoons chironji (charoli seeds)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons almond slivers
- 1 to 2 tablespoons pistachio slivers – unsalted
- Add whole milk and condensed milk in a thick bottomed saucepan or kadai. Stir and mix with a wired whisk so that the condensed milk is mixed evenly with milk.
- If you do not prefer a sweeter basundi add ¼ cup milk or more according to your preferences. Keep in mind the mixture thickens while cooking, so add the milk accordingly.
- Place the pan on stovetop. Keep heat to a low. Bring this mixture to a gentle boil. Keep on stirring at intervals so that the liquids do not get browned or burn from bottom.
- Cook on low heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir after intervals of 3 to 4 minutes.
- Gradually the basundi mixture would begin to thicken.
- Scrape the milk solids from the sides and the cream collected on the top and add it back to the basundi mixture.
- Add grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder, slivered nuts, cardamom powder and saffron strands.
- Mix and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Pour in serving bowls. Serve basundi hot or warm or cold. While serving garnish with some slivered nuts like almonds or pistachios. You can serve as is or with poori.
- Sweetness is relative. With 2 cups milk, the basundi is slightly sweet for my taste, but my family found it perfect. So when the basundi is cooked, check the taste. And if you find it more sweet, add in about ¼ cup to ⅓ cup warm or hot milk to lighten the sweeter taste. You can choose to add more milk when you mix it with condensed milk or after the cooking is complete.
- Stir the mixture often while cooking so that the liquids do not burn or get brown at the bottom of the pan.
- I would recommend to add both chironji and nutmeg to get the authentic flavors if you have time. Chironji gives a nice crunch and makes this dessert more flavorful.
- Do use whole milk for a creamy consistency. Toned milk or low-fat milk won’t give you the same results.
- For chironji take care as it gets quickly rancid and tastes slightly bitter. If the chironji has become rancid, then do not add it.
- You can skip adding saffron but do add cardamom powder.
- Feel free to add the nuts that are easily available to you. Some options are: pine nuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds.
- For parties or get togethers you can easily scale this recipe depending upon the servings you want.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Basundi Recipe post from the archives (September 2014) has been updated and republished on 22 October 2021.