India gave Britain its love for rice pudding. Eaten across the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, flavours and styles may differ, but rice, milk and sugar are the three main components that define kheer. I love the flavours of cardamom and saffron and I do not like my kheer too thick, so I tend to keep it a bit more wet than is typical. India grows thousands of varieties of rice and for this recipe, I am using glutinous black rice, which has a unique flavour and texture.
- Glutinous black rice 200g (7oz) (or other sticky rice)
- Water 850ml (11⁄2 pints)
- Caster sugar 500g (1lb 2 oz), plus 1½ tablespoons for the rice
- Green cardamom pods 3, seeds roughly crushed
- Lime juice from 1 lime
- Oranges 2–3, peeled and segmented
- Plums 6–8, cut into pieces
- Coconut milk 600ml (20fl oz)
- Cinnamon stick 5cm (2in) piece
- Rinse the rice to get rid of any powdery residue. Soak in 250ml (9fl oz) of the water and set aside for an hour or two, then drain.
- Meanwhile, prepare the syrup for the orange and plums. Place the sugar along with the cardamom, lime juice and remaining 600ml (20fl oz) water in a small pan and let soak for a few minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Place over medium heat and gradually bring it to a simmer. Do not stir, but leave a wooden spatula in the syrup and occasionally just move it slightly.
- Place the orange segments and the plums in two separate frying pans.
- Simmer the syrup for a few minutes until it thickens, then divide between the two fruit pans. Scrape off any excess. Bring each pan to the boil, then switch off and remove the contents into small bowls.
- Mix the drained rice with the coconut milk, the 1½ tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon stick and start to heat over medium heat. Stir as frequently as you can over very low heat for 35–40 minutes so the rice gradually releases its starch, plus the cinnamon releases its flavour, and also to avoid the rice sticking at the bottom. High heat will instantly make it stick and you will get a burned rice taste. You may end up needing to add more water or coconut milk.
- When the rice is cooked, taste to see if you need to add more sugar (bearing in mind that the two fruits are in a syrup), and check the consistency. As the rice cools, it will thicken and set like a jelly, so keep it quite thin.
- The rice is best served warm along with the two fruits, which can be drizzled over the pudding.