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Recipes / Vishwesh Bhatt’s Mom’s Rice “Pudding”

Vishwesh Bhatt’s Mom’s Rice “Pudding”

By The Editors

Published January 18, 2024

This was the first (and, for the longest time, the only) dessert I could make. It has just three main ingredients: milk, sugar, and rice. That’s why I call it “pudding” in quotes—it doesn’t even require an egg-based custard, as most puddings do. — Vishwesh Bhatt

Photo: Angie Mosier
Photo: Angie Mosier
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Vishwesh Bhatt shared this recipe when he joined us on Food with Mark Bittman.

My mother taught me that adding a pinch of saffron, a couple of pods of cardamom, and some almonds or pistachios to those three very basic ingredients and patiently stirring them so as not to scorch the milk makes for a rich and creamy dessert that could be eaten warm, as we often did when I was growing up, or chilled, as I almost always do now. This recipe makes a generous 8 servings. You could easily cut in half, but it’s so creamy and comforting, I can’t imagine why you would want to. — I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef

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Vishwesh Bhatt’s Mom’s Rice “Pudding”

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Makes 8 servings 1x

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup basmati, jasmine, or other long-grain aromatic rice, rinsed under cold running water for 2 minutes and drained
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons toasted chopped pistachios, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds, for garnish

Instructions

Combine the rice with the ghee in a small bowl; set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the milk has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook the milk, stirring constantly. Take care not to let it scorch. Add the cardamom and star anise pods; continue to stir and cook the milk.

Once the milk has started to thicken and is reduced to half, about 20 minutes, stir in the sugar and rice-ghee mixture. Continue to cook over very low heat until the rice is cooked all the way through, the sugar is completely dissolved, and the milk takes on a very light caramel color, 30 to 40 minutes. This requires constant stirring as you don’t want the rice, milk, or sugar to scorch. You’re aiming for a creamy-smooth consistency, almost like grits.

Once the rice is cooked, stir in the saffron and remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the raisins. If planning to serve chilled, allow the pudding to cool completely before refrigerating.

Garnish with chopped pistachios and slivered almonds before serving.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

— Recipe from I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef