Recipe: Cardamom & Rose Rice Pudding

Served for dessert October 20th, 2013

I’ve loved chunky pudding since I was a little girl. Tapioca is my favorite - silky, sweet, with textural intrigue - it was always a good week when my mom bought Snack Pack pudding cups for my lunch.

My taste has evolved (matured?), but my love for the little chunkies remains. I often make rice pudding, usually as a way to use up leftover brown rice. I’ll add cinnamon and nutmeg, and maybe some apples, for a treat that’s almost healthful enough for breakfast. When I saw this recipe for a lightly sweet, elegant rice pudding in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, I knew exactly what I would make for my first supper club dessert. The rose syrup is what really makes it special - its heady perfume takes it to another level.

This recipe has a few ingredients that are not exactly pantry staples for many of us - many of Mr. O’s recipes do - but rice pudding is like tofu and is infinitely adaptable. Don’t do dairy? Use soy, or better yet (for a richer flavor) coconut milk. Don’t have rose water? Don’t fret! Any fruit syrup would work (lemon would be great) or just dust some cinnamon sugar on top.

A few notes:

1. While I would have loved to warm my milk with crushed cardamom pods and vanilla beans and let it infuse for 12 hours, I partied the night before this dinner and simply didn’t have the time - not to mention the cardamom pods. I skipped the entire first step and simply added vanilla extract and ground cardamom to the milk. You know what? It tasted fine. Probably not as unctuous as Mr. O intented, but we don't all have all day.

2. The luscious, warm, creamy stuff you lick off the spoon when the pudding’s done cooking is NOT the same thing you will pull out of the fridge at dessert time. Rice pudding continues to firm up - a lot - so if you like things soft and, you know, pudding-like, stop cooking at the wet ‘n’ runny stage. If you’re serving fresh outta the pot, cook until thicker. . (Lesson learned the hard way. No one complained, because they’re nice.)

Cardamom & Rose Pudding

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook. Serves 8.

In a large, heavy pot, heat 3.5 c whole milk with 1 c cream. If you want the full experience, add 16 cardamom pods (lightly crushed) and 2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped. Bring to almost boiling and remove from heat; let infuse in fridge for 2-12 hours. 

If you’re lazy/short on time/short on whole spices like me, simply add 3 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tsp ground cardamom to the milk. No need to chill/infuse. 

Either way you’ve made the spiced milk, put it back on the heat and add 1 1/3 c short grain white rice. I used “broken” basmati rice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly (yeah, right), until rice is cooked (about 20min). I had to break up some clumpy clumps and add a little bit more milk to thin it down - it thickened up too much before the rice was done. KEEP PUDDING THIN if you plan to chill and serve in cups later. Don’t do what I did.

Remove from heat. Pick out cardamom and vanilla if you put them in. Stir in 1/4 c sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 c butter (!!!), 2 tbsp honey, and a few pinches of salt. Serve warm or chill for later. 



Rose petals (just for pretty’s sake - I found mine at a witchy woo-woo hippy shop for cheap)

Rose Syrup: 2 tbsp honey + 3 tsp rose water + 2 tsp water