Indian Rice Pudding, Take 1
Of course Badmaash, my fave Indian restaurant in LA, has a badass Indian rice pudding, and it inspired me to try to make my own.
The first thing to do was to find a solid Indian rice pudding recipe, and while there were many online, I opted for a recipe from Aarti Sequeira of the Food Network. For a first-timer, it seemed simple enough, and it didn’t look like I’d be slaving away all night at it. The recipe calls for milk, basmati rice, cardamom (an Indian spice), sugar, rosewater or vanilla extract, pistachios and/or almonds.
Begin by dumping the milk, rice (I used long grain, since that’s what I had) and cardamom together into a saucepan and bringing them to a boil. My first mistake, given that the recipe calls for 6 cups of milk, was using a 2-quart saucepan. Some of the milk bubbled over when it boiled, and that isn’t a lot of fun to clean up (and be careful, because your burners will be hot after they’ve been in use!). My new 3.5-quart Calphalon saucepan should be arriving today.
Once the liquid hits a boil, reduce it to a simmer. Make sure to keep stirring–almost constantly–so that a skin doesn’t form. If it does, though, you can always stir it away or skim it off. I did both at various points. Keep it simmering for 45 to 50 minutes, until the liquid has substantially reduced, by roughly half. Next time, I might pull it off a few minutes sooner. It depends on what you like when it comes to consistency, but I think I’d like my next iteration to have just a drop more liquid.
When it’s reduced to the point where you’re happy, turn off the heat and add the sugar…but what I did is cut the sugar in half and substitute fresh organic dates (from Bautista Family Date Ranch, a fab farmer from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market) that I chopped relatively finely for the missing sugar (in other words, half sugar, half chopped dates). Next time, I want to cut back on the sweetness a little, so I’ll likely eliminate all of the sugar in favor of dates–it’s better for you anyway–and see where that gets me.
At the same time you’re adding the sugar/dates/something sweet, add either vanilla or rosewater. I had vanilla and didn’t have rosewater. It worked perfectly well, but next time, I’m going to try rosewater. And add your nuts, chopped finely enough that you don’t get any large chunks. For me, I always have almonds around, so that was what I used. Stir each new ingredient in.
Let the mixture cool, and then serve your Indian rice pudding either warm or chilled. Personally, I prefer chilled, so once it cooled a little, I gave it a bit of quality time with the refrigerator before serving. Aarti suggests garnishing it with extra nuts when you serve. I didn’t, but I can see how it would be nice to add some texture on top. Of course, the bottom line is “how did it taste?” It was delicious, and it was even better the next day as it built flavor. I made it on a Monday night, and it was still delicious, as per my actor buddy Daniel Rashid, who is a frequent guest to try my creations, as of Friday.
So what’s the final roundup of changes I’ll make for Indian Rice Pudding, Take 2?
The long grain rice was perfectly good, but I’m going to see if there’s any difference with basmati. And based on advice from my friends at Badmaash, I may try washing/soaking it first (until the water is clear)–which I’ve never actually done before–to see how that affects the overall consistency.
Bigger saucepan. If you make this recipe at its current size, you need at least a 3-quart saucepan for safety.
More dates, less sugar–and less sweetness in general.
Try coconut (regular, not low fat) milk instead of whole milk.
Slightly shorter cooking time if needed, to allow for just a little more liquid.
Rosewater instead of vanilla, though vanilla was great.
Possibly almonds on top for garnish.
Ingredients for Indian Rice Pudding
1/2 cup basmati (or long grain) rice
6 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar/dates/something sweet (but consider reducing)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon rosewater or vanilla
3 tablespoons of chopped/sliced almonds or pistachios (honestly, I didn’t measure this out exactly–I’d eyeball it)
While the experimentation may be continuing, I’m so stoked about this recipe that it’s likely to be making an appearance at my annual Oscar party!