Growing up we ate rice pudding once a week or so. Baked in the Aga it was a traditional Irish pudding, milky baked until it was set quite hard with a skin sprinkled with nutmeg and underneath the rice was speckled through with sultanas. I found it comforting to eat & was intrigued with the idea it went into the oven & came out a few hours later ready to eat.
The frost sparkled outside the window the night I decided to experiment with rice pudding. I remembered a conversation with my Indian Friend Nelson Thomas Raja & where he mentioned a pudding made with basmati rice & spices. Intrigued, I wondered if I had the ingredients & could create it.
In the cupboard I found cinnamon sticks & green cardamom, vanilla pods, pudding rice and tins of evaporated milk. My fridge showed a little milk & not wanting to drive in the ice, I substituted cans of evaporated milk, some vanilla sugar, the little milk I had & water plus the spices. I also decided to cook the pudding on top of the stove on the Aga simmering plate rather than in the oven.
The spices lifted the rice to a completely different level while the evaporated milk brought depth. Since then it's become a staple pudding in my kitchen. I love serving it with mandarin oranges or eating it cold the next day.
Recently I received Ottolengi & Tamimi'd book Jerusalem. I'll be posting about it shortly. But let me just say I ADORE THIS BOOK & read it cover to cover the moment I discovered it had been sent to me.
In the book they have a recipe for rice pudding with pistachios and rose water that was similar to my spicey rice. In their book I discovered that rice pudding is the most common everyday dessert throughout the old Sephardi world - eaten hot or cold throughout the day.
In the Arab world rice pudding was also common & it would have been flavoured with sugar flower blossom syrups.
I decided to combine the idea of rose & pistachio into my spicey Indian rice pudding. This is the result. A pudding so delicious. So comforting. It just soothes my soul. I hope it will yours too.
I served it the first time I made it at the dinner party I cooked on Friday night.
Here's the recipe.
2tins evaporated milk
1pint semi skimmed milk
1/2 water maybe a little more or less
10 green cardamom pods bashed
1 vanilla pod seeds scraped out & pod or 4 tsp of food vanilla extract
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
300g pudding rice - you can use basmati if you wish but the texture will be different.
7tbsp runny honey - use a honey that's as local to you as possible
Pinch of salt
7tbsp runny honey
5 tbsp rose water if using rose extract about 2-3tsp as its stronger
Finely sliced pistachio nuts
Dried rose petals
Bring to the boil the milk, evaporated milk, vanilla pod, bashed cardamom seeds and shell, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Take off the heat & set aside. Either overnight in the fridge or on the back of the cooker while you make all your other dishes. I left mine on the back of the aga for about 2hours. The longer you leave the flavours to develop the richer the pudding will be
Make the syrup by adding the ingredients to a small pan with a four tsp water heat until all the ingredients come together then leave to the side but keep warm
Bring the milk and spice mixture to a simmer add the honey
Wash the rice then add to the rice
Stir continually over a medium heat - I use the simmering ring of the aga - for about 17-20 minutes. The rice should be cooked al dente like a risotto so it will have a bite. The pudding will be thick, I add up to 1/2 pint of water towards the end of cooking if the pudding is becoming to thick
The consistency should be soft & oozing not sticky & thick
Remove the pan from the heat, pick out the cardamom, vanilla pod, bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
Serve in little bowls, tea glasses or cups drizzled with syrup & sprinkled with pistachios and dried rose petals.
The pudding can be made a head of time & reheated it can also be served cold.
I love the rich flavour of this pudding it is aromatic, sweet and soothing. You may not like as much flavour as me. So I encourage you to taste taste taste the pudding as you cook it. If you feel to your palate the spice is just right 1/2 way through cooking remove te cinnamon stick, and vanilla pod.
I'd love to hear how you make rice pudding.
That's it for now ...
Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable