Perfect for cooler weather…..

I happened to have an extra cup of cooked white rice so I threw the calorie counter out and made rice pudding!

This recipe is far from the traditional ‘English’ style rice pudding and my in house ‘quality controller’ declared it the best he has ever tasted.

The choice of rice differs according to taste. I used the common long grain white rice, but you can use fragrant and creamier Asian rice such as Basmati or Jasmine for this recipe.

The flavourings of this rice are typical of an Indian rice pudding called ‘kheer’. Kheer is made by boiling raw rice (or other grains such as tapioca, vermicelli or even sweetcorn) in milk, flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds and/or dried fruit. Saffron may be added for special occasions. It is sweetened with sugar after the rice has softened or at the end of the cooking process. In some recipes sweetened condensed milk is added to the milk. The rice is preferably pre-soaked to speed up the cooking.

I have deviated slightly to explain what Kheer is, as the final texture differs from a baked rice pudding and it contains no eggs. If you use a plant based milk substitute it can easily be served to vegans.

Kheer is not baked as the British version is. The raw rice and flavourings are boiled with the milk until it is creamy and the rice is cooked. It is then flavoured with rose water and chilled.

The remaining ingredients

I always use whole milk for rice puddings. For the ultimate creamy treat use half milk half cream! My recipe starts by infusing warmed milk with cinnamon sticks and bruised cardamom pods. You can strain these out after about an hour, but I keep them in to maximise the flavour, and rather fish them out later.

I add dried fruit in the form of golden sultanas, seedless raisins, chopped dried mango bits or finely chopped crystallised ginger.

My Mother always separated the eggs for the rice pudding and folded the whisked whites in just before baking. The result was more soufflé-like than baked custard, which you may traditionally be familiar with. This made her rice pudding special as it was light and creamy. A far from the starchy stodgy baked puddings we experienced at boarding school! She flavoured hers with vanilla and cinnamon and occasionally with orange zest, but never the Indian flavours that I used. Being an adventurous cook, she would have loved the Asian flavours that we use today.

You can sweeten it with sugar, but I decided to cut the calories by using one 1g sachet of stevia (a plant based sweetener) and a tablespoon of honey. Honey is not calorie-free but the flavour is amazing.

I always have a bottle of good quality rose water in the pantry. It’s best to buy this at an Asian supermarket as they usually have the best quality. Don’t go for the cheapest or coloured rose water. You need to buy the best quality available to get a delicate rose flavour.

My recipe is real fusion, but the result is light and delicious. It’s true comfort food with being heavy and would easily fit into an Asian inspired menu.

Recipe: Rice pudding – baked, with Asian flavours