Cooking time: 2 hours
Persian Rice Pudding
Some purists prefer their rice pudding to be a rice, milk and sugar only affair. But this Persian version (with its images of fields full of roses and of exotic spices) contains vanilla, which really brings an amazing range of complementary flavours together. Although this is served hot, you can enjoy it chilled as well. I can imagine eating it for breakfast.
50 g butter
100 g arborio rice
850 ml whole milk
100 ml cream (single or double, as you wish)
90 g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped and reserved
1⁄2 a cinnamon stick
grated zest of 1⁄2 orange
grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
1 teaspoon rose syrup or
1 tablespoon rosewater
about 6 crushed pink peppercorns
a pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon flaked almonds (optional)
3−4 saffron strands
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped
2 fresh figs, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F) Gas 1.
2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice, as if you were making a risotto. Stir in the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, cinnamon, orange and lemon zest, rose syrup or rosewater, pink peppercorns, nutmeg and almonds, if using.
3. Transfer the contents of the pan to an ovenproof dish and bake for 2 hours; alternatively simmer it on the stove for 45 minutes, or until the rice is soft, making sure you stir it, especially towards the end of cooking. About 10 minutes before it is ready, stir in the saffron strands.
4. Once the rice is cooked, garnish it with pomegranate seeds, pistachios and figs and remove the vanilla pod before serving.