In New York City, we have a rice pudding restaurant called Rice to Riches that people visit in droves. They have about 20 flavors of rice pudding from vanilla to rocky road. Rice pudding is a lovely dessert for those on a gluten-free diet. It's an everyday dessert or can be made festive when dressed up a little with pistachios, dates and a splash of rose flower water.
I love rice pudding warm because it's soothing and feels like comfort food. But I know a lot of people prefer it cold. Last week when I had a bit of the flu, eating a bowl of rice pudding made me feel so much better. Generally, I tend to eat one serving warm right after it's prepared and then refrigerate the rest for later.
I kept my pudding dairy free by using almond milk, but feel free to substitute organic whole milk instead. You can also switch the kind of rice you use. I love jasmine rice, but basmati, arborio and brown rice are just as delicious. Just double check the cooking times on whatever kind of rice you use.
CARDAMOM RICE PUDDING WITH ROSE WATER AND PISTACHIOS
You can find rose water at Kalustyans and other middle eastern stores.
1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice, rinsed
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 vanilla bean, split open and scraped
1/3 cup organic sugar
4 tablespoons shelled pistachios, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons rose flower water
3 dates, pitted and chopped
Honey or maple syrup (optional)
Combine the rice, milk, cardamom and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and let it simmer, stirring often, until the milk has reduced by about half, 30-40 minutes.
Add the sugar, half of the pistachios and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the cardamom pods and vanilla bean.
Stir in the rose flower water.
Serve warm or chilled, garnished with the remaining pistachios and chopped dates. Drizzle with honey or good quality maple syrup if you want it a little sweeter.