Indian-spiced coconut rice pudding with aromatic poached pears

Deena Kakaya's Indian-spiced rice pudding recipe uses creamy whole milk and coconut for a satisfying, rich winter dessert. She infuses the rice pudding with cardamom and rose water for an aromatic finish, and completes the dish with perfectly tender poached pears.

First published in 2015

I recently asked a question on the blog about your favourite milk recipe and quite a few people mentioned rice pudding and some even with the old favourite of a dollop of strawberry jam. I remember doing that as a child. There’s something about the creamy and smooth nature of rice pudding that sits so well with juicy and plump fruit. For me, rice pudding conjures memories of celebrations; rice pudding with all its saffron, cardamom and rose water glory was affectionately made on special occasions such as a family get together, a religious holiday or as a treat for decent exam results. Rice pudding is consequently a happy dish for me and one that feels so bolstering to eat, hot and steaming against the cool air of the winter. My nostalgic temptation has evolved the fruity dollop into some fine and glowing pears with an Indian accent. I poached the pears tenderly, in whole spices including saffron, which has given them a lovely colour. The star anise and cinnamon come through the robust of flavours, but you can most definitely sense the cardamom and cloves.




Rice pudding

Poached pears


To begin, start making the rice pudding. In a deep, non-stick pan, combine the pudding rice, milk and sugar and bring to a full simmer. Turn down the heat to a moderate simmer before adding the saffron and ground cardamom. Cook the rice pudding for approximately 30–35 minutes
Meanwhile, make the poached pears. Heat the water and sugar in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved before adding the whole spices. Peel, core and trim the pears before cutting them into quarters, removing any stems
Add the pears to the liquid, making sure that they are fully immersed, otherwise exposed parts may discolour. Turn the flame to a low simmer and cook the pears for about 20 minutes, or until tender
When the rice has been cooking for 30–35 minutes, add the coconut milk and rose water and cook for a further 5–10 minutes or until the rice is tender
Whilst the rice pudding is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan and gently toast the desiccated coconut until it catches a golden colour. Allow the desiccated coconut to cool
Divide the rice pudding between bowls and place slices of poached pear on top. Sprinkle with the toasted desiccated coconut and serve
First published in 2015

Deena is a food writer with work published in UK magazines such as BBC Good Food, Delicious, Cook Veg and Fork.

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