By Marilyn Michael
Was your grandma’s favorite bread pudding the last homemade pudding you’ve enjoyed? Bread and rice puddings were delicious vestiges of an era when food was not wasted as it, too often, is today. Even amidst calorie conscious craziness we must, once in a while, treat ourselves, and those with whom we share our lives, to comfort food treats. If you are going to indulge, this pudding blends comforting memories with exotic flights of fancy. It trades out the traditional vanilla, appearing in most creamy American puddings, for cardamom. “Rice pudding without vanilla!?” you protest. Yes! And it’s a rice pudding with an intriguing delicious flavor that gains in intensity the next day. It’s a pudding that caused my foodie husband to rave and to consider whether he might not prefer it to the beloved puddings of his youth.
I introduced you to cardamom in an earlier post that offered a Pakistani friend’s Chai recipe. Cardamom is aroma therapy for my mentor in Indian cuisine, Mina. It takes her back to her childhood in Goa on the west coast of India where the sweet and soothing aroma mixed with sea breezes and to her later life in Zanzibar, The Spice Island, where cardamom was used in desserts and chais for her children. If you are unfamiliar with cardamom, stop at a market selling bulk spices and discover it.
Along with this pudding I’ll share a way of sectioning it up and storing that can be easily popped into a lunch bag for an easy to eat, yummy midday treat. If taking it to work, you’ll want to pop in another for a friend to enjoy. I’ve found that if I have the right containers for a dish, it encourages me to whip some up.
Creamy Coconut Rice and Cardamom Pudding
1 cup rice (Basmati or Jasmine are excellent)
1 - 16.2 oz. can. coconut water
2 cups milk ( 2% or whole is good)
1 cup unwhipped whip cream (½ & ½ works fine)
1-6 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk or ½ can 14 oz. coconut milk (shake the can before opening; if using the larger can, freeze the other half)
½ cup white sugar
½ to 1 teaspoon cardamom powder or freshly ground cardamom seeds (We love the cardamom flavor so much that I now use a full teaspoon of cardamom. I keep a coffee grinder on hand for spices.)
1 large egg, whisked
Make coconut rice by cooking 1 cup rice in the can of coconut water. I use a rice cooker and find the bottom of the rice is a bit browned because of the natural sugars in the coconut water, but that just adds a nice toastiness. Scoop out two cups of the cooked rice for the recipe.
Mix together the 2 cups cooked rice and milk in a large sauce pan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer whisking continuously. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
Whisk in the whip cream, coconut milk, sugar and cardamom. When combined, add the egg whisking while adding. (You can temper the egg with a bit of the mixture but, I’ve found, the added ingredients decrease the heat enough to preclude the need to do that).
Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, whisking continuously until the mixture just begins to thicken again. This will take about 10 minutes. When thickening begins, remove from heat. Lay plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding and cool in the pan if transferring to smaller containers (as below) or pour into a glass bowl and cool with plastic wrap on the surface.
Tip for ease of use in school or work lunches (or to create portions lessening the tendency to just keep eating this amazing treat). Spoon into eight 4oz. Ziplock ® brand containers and refrigerate. I keep the containers and lids in a gallon plastic bag so they stay together for future puddings because you will want to make it again.