December 26, 2021
Rice pudding has dropped off in popularity over the last centuries and it never really took off in the US, which is a shame because rice pudding is one of the only dishes I can think of that is truly reminiscent of my childhood.
The dish is mentioned in countless pieces of Victorian and Edwardian literature. Unfortunately, the dish never took off in America beyond some recipe the first immigrants bought over.
While the exact origin of the dish is disputed, it’s typically agreed upon that it is Indian or Chinese. Variations of the dish are very popular in both and both cultures have ancient writings about it.
Like the vast majority of imports throughout the Victorian era, rice was expensive. This cemented rice pudding as a dish of kings and queens and the aristocracy. It has a reputation alongside early English writing as being considered plain and stodgy.
Every region of earth has a different take and often different names for rice pudding altogether. In Spain, it’s called Arroz con leche, in German, milchreis, in India, payasam.
Rice & Spices
The rice is obviously the most important part of this dish. A lot of people wonder whether or not you can use long grain rice, the precise amount of milk for that rice, etc. I have never used long grain rice, and for good reason:
short grain rice is starchier than long-grain rice, which results in a creamier dessert. Shor grain rice is also a little more forgiving to overcooking, making this dish easier to get right!
Rice pudding can be made easily with short-grain rice, sugar, and milk. Served hot, it gives off the impression of a wintery, Christmas dessert, and the spices in this recipe reflect that. Cinnamon sticks, whole cloves & nutmeg, and cardamom pods.
Start by adding the milk, sugar, spices, and rice into a cold pot. The pot needs a thick, high-quality bottom to heat evenly and keep the contents from burning. Place the pot over low heat, cover with a lid or plate, then bring to a simmer. Make sure to stir the rice constantly, to control the temperature and keep it from sticking to the bottom.
Keep an eye on the rice the entire time it’s on the stove. Be at least a listening distance away so you can hear if there’s any overflow (which you can expect from heating milk).
Simmer the rice pudding, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring constantly. It should be thick, aromatic, and the rice should be tender. Remove and toss all the spices from the pudding then let it sit to set for 10-15 minutes before serving. Rice pudding can also be served cold.
- 5 cups Milk
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 4 Whole Cloves
- 1 Vanilla Pod, Seeds Removed
- 3 Cardamom Pods
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup Pudding Rice
- Raisins (Optional)
- Add the milk, sugar, spices, and rice into a thick bottom pot or saucepan and place over low heat.
- Attentively simmer the rice pudding stirring constantly to ensure it doesn't burn.
- Once the rice is tender, remove the pot from the heat, remove the whole spices, and leave it to set for 10 minutes.
- Serve hot or cold with chopped fruit, custard, jam, or nutmeg.