I have recently learnt that there is so much more to rice pudding than the school rice pudding that I loved so much as a child with a spoonful of jam. It is universally beloved, but each country has its own special name, its own special frills and flourishes and its own special associated memories and traditions. In parts of Scandanavia, it is traditionally eaten at Christmas with an almond hidden inside to bring luck to whosoever should find it. In Turkey, sütlaç was traditionally prepared in the Ottoman palace kitchens, sweet and simple but delicately flavoured with rosewater. It can be baked, as well as cooked on the hob, you can adapt the consistency and produce a cakey pudding that can even be sliced! There are endless possibilities to rice pudding, from our traditional dollop of jam, to adding maple syrup or honey, lemon peel, bananas, coffee, chocolate, dried fruits, nuts, spices – anything! And the best thing is, it’s so easy to make with the simplest store cupboard ingredients!
This is a very basic recipe inspired by the wonderful sütlaç and arroz con leche that I have had the recent privilege to try. I am longing to experiment with my own frills and flourishes – adding some chopped apple to stew in the milk, or some cocoa powder and pieces of pear. This simple recipe is just perfect on its own though and can be eaten hot, cosy and warm for the winter, or chilled and it becomes a lovely, light summer pudding.
80g rice (basmati rice, pudding rice, whatever you have – you can even use precooked leftover rice)
2 tbsp sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla essence/extract
a generous pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- Add your milk and rice to a large saucepan. Over a medium heat, bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat.
- Add the sugar, vanilla and spices and leave to cook for around 30-40 minutes until the pudding begins to look thick and creamy (it will thicken a little further as it chills). This recipe pretty much takes care of itself but you do need to keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Pour into one big dish or share between individual bowls or ramekins and leave to cool and then chill, or serve warm and chill any leftovers in the fridge for later. Sprinkle with a light dusting of cinnamon and enjoy!