Persian Inspired Rice Pudding
Do you remember the bowls of steaming rice pudding when you were a child? This version is utterly extravagant, rich and creamy and is guaranteed to comfort you when the nights are long and dark. It takes some time but I promise you, it’s worth it. It can be eaten hot, or cold.
For the rice pudding:
1 litre whole milk 100g golden caster sugar
Long peel strips of 1 orange
Long peel strips of 1/2 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
A pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water 120g risotto rice
300ml double cream 1 egg yolk (optional) 1 tsp of orange flower water
For the poached rhubarb:
400g forced rhubarb, thin stalks cut into 4cm lengths
60g golden caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
90ml, or juice from 2 oranges
Peel strips from 1 orange
Peels strips from 1/2 lemon
30g pistachios, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 160 °C.
Put the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, soaked saffron, orange and lemon peel, vanilla bean paste and rice into a wide heavy-based saucepan (at least 22cm in diameter) and set over a medium heat. Stir to combine.
Bring to the boil and then turn the pan right down, stirring occasionally. Cook for 40 minutes or until the rice is completely soft. The rice can catch towards the end of cooking as it gets thick, so keep an eye on it and stir regularly.
While the rice is simmering away, put the rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, lemon and orange peel into a small baking tray so the rhubarb is one layer deep. Cover tightly with foil and place into the preheated oven (160 °C) for 30-40 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still holds its shape. Check it after 30 minutes as you don’t want the rhubarb to burst and this can happen quickly. When it’s ready and a pink syrup has formed remove from the oven and set aside.
When the rice has become soft and thick, remove the cinnamon stick along with the lemon and orange peel and add the double cream. Bring back to a gentle simmer and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the egg yolk, if you are using it, and the orange blossom water.
To serve, spoon the rice into bowls and top with the poached rhubarb, syrup and chopped pistachios.