YIELD: 12 servings
3 qts. milk
1 qt. heavy or light cream or half and half
2 ¼ cup Basmati rice (can substitute medium- or short-grain rice)
1 ¼ cup light brown sugar
1 to 1 ½ tsps. ground green cardamom pods
1 to 1 ½ tsps. saffron threads
1 ½ cups dark seedless raisins
1 cup toasted almond slices
2 Tbsp. orange zest, optional
as needed, toasted almond slices (optional)
1. In a heavy pot, bring milk and cream to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Add rice, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and the mixture reduces and thickens to custard consistency. Rice should be soft and creamy (about 45 to 50 minutes). Remove from heat.
2. Stir sugar into hot rice mixture. Add ground cardamom seeds (removed from pod and ground), saffron threads, raisins and almonds to rice mixture and mix well. Add orange zest, if desired. Turn mixture into deep half steam table pan. Cool, cover, refrigerate.
3. To serve: Place 1 cup pudding into a dessert dish and serve with additional toasted almond slices on top. Dish may be served with a variety of fresh fruit, including mango, papaya, pineapple, star fruit, etc. If desired, garnish with fresh mint or lemon verbena.
Photo and recipe: USA Rice Federation