Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rice Pudding Flavoured with Cardamom, Rosewater and Saffron

One of the most vivid souvenirs I have of my childhood in France, was my summer vacation spent with my friends and family in Normandy, north of France. Every summer, we would head to the shores of Normandy with my parents and my little brother, who was too young back then to remember any of these memorable days.

I would spend most of my days at the beach picking up mussels with my nanny and friends and eat them like there was no tomorrow. I’m guessing we had cooked them first, but for some reason, I just remember eating them. My memory seemed to have skipped the cooking part. And for dessert, Nounou’s famous rice pudding cake (gâteau au riz). Since my real grandparents were still in Vietnam and I didn’t know them at the time, I considered my nanny’s mother, Nounou, like my only grandmother. Nounou introduced me to her delicious gateau au riz, mussels with tomatoes and our favorite afternoon snack…sardines with a baguette!

The gâteau au riz never left me and so I’ve attempted to make it here in Montreal the past few years, but the taste was never the same. I’m convinced the milk produce made here in Canada compared to the one in France makes a very big difference in the taste of renowned French delicacies.

I may not be able to re-create Maman Nounou’s rice pudding cake to a tee, not just yet, but I am still able to enjoy a great rice pudding when it has the consistency and flavour that any pudding lover desires. This Indian-influenced recipe is by far the best rice pudding I’ve tasted, after Nounou’s, because of the distinct fragrance of rosewater, and my love for saffron, raisins and nuts.
Rosewater gives a distinct flavour and aroma to sweets.

Although I prefer using Basmati rice for this recipe, I ran out of it when I made it today and settled for Arborio rice instead, which worked out just as well.

Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 40 minutes
Recipe "au pif":
½ Arborio or Basmati rice
½ tsp crushed cardamom seeds, shells discarded
1 liter 1% milk or soya milk (I used
Natura soya milk and the pudding was very creamy)
2-3 tbsp raw cane sugar (to taste)
½ tbsp rosewater
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup raisins (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, water discarded)
½ tsp saffron
Sliced almonds to garnish
Pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped to garnish

Crush rice in food processor, with 2-3 pulses, enough to break rice grains in small pieces but not to powder.

In a medium sized saucepan, add the rice and bring ½ the amount of milk to a boil and stir constantly for about 5 minutes.

Once boiled, add the remaining ½ of the milk and continue stirring until mixture starts thickening for about 20 minutes, then lower heat to medium.

Add in remaining ingredients, except for the almonds and pistachios. Stir constantly for about 15 minutes or until rice grains are cooked and texture of pudding is creamy and thick. Add more milk to reach desired consistency if necessary.

Garnish with almonds and pistachio nuts.

Serve warm or chilled. Although this rice pudding can keep for a couple of days in the fridge, I find it tastes so much better eaten that same day because of its creaminess and fresh fragrance.

Serves 4-6 people.



ila said...

this looks delicious! i can never say no to cardamom and rosewater :]

Cynthia said...

Hope you're having a great holiday!