Saturday, August 01, 2009

Not your average rice pudding...

I've only made rice pudding once before and while it went over well, I haven't thought about it much. I'm not sure what sparked, but I couldn't get it out of my mind for the past couple of weeks, so after paging through the stacks of un-tried sweets to see what we had, I found this Saffron Rice Pudding with Cranberries, Almonds and Pistachios. With all ingredients being pantry staples (I even had a little vial of saffron!), I figured it was wise to give this one a go!

I wish I had read through the directions with a shaper eye though... talk about a bummer when you read through a little closer and realize there is a bunch of downtime! It wasn't that bad, but before I could even get the pot going, this version has you soak the rinsed basmati rice for an hour first. Which, in fact, turned out to work in Gus's favor as we used that time to take him for a walk around the neighborhood this morning! I made sure we were back in a half hour though, because we then had to add the saffron into a couple tablespoons of the milk, giving it a chance to bloom and pull out some of its rich color.

You could use whatever type of milk you like to cook this pudding, but as I was looking for a bit more richness, we compromised and used equal parts milk and half-and-half. Once those two were brought to a simmer, the rice was added, along with the bloomed saffron and just enough sugar to turn this sweet. When you're cooking white rice for a side dish or however you use it, the time is usually fairly short compared to this recipe - however, the extra time is needed to extract as much starch out, tightening the pudding and leaving you with tender rice.

When the rice was ready, we stirred in our add-ins - dried cranberries and toasted sliced almonds (and no skimping on toasting - the nuts need the boost to not get lost here!), which only need a couple minutes to heat through. Orange zest was then tossed in to cut through the richness with a bright citrus-y note, while chopped roasted pistachios were sprinkled on top.

Creamy and not too sweet, Jeff and I commented how well we enjoyed the tartness from those dried cranberries, along with the contrasting crunch from the nutty pistachios. While that tiny pinch of saffron doesn't shout out from the dish, we could easily find its earthy component in each spoonful. I am by no means an expert on rice puddings, so I can't say if this was "dry" and should have been looser or not (some pictures I've seen have it almost looking like a thick soup), but we were happy campers by the time our bowls were clean! If you prefer to have your rice puddings served chilled, wait to add those nuts so they keep their crunchy bite.


  1. Yum! Looks perfect for the end of a Persian meal.

  2. I tried this yesterday and it was delicious. Unfortunately the rice did not seem to cook very well, so I probably did something wrong, or the stovetop shut off again halfway through simmering or SOMETHING. I still ended up cooking it extra-long. Anyway, the rice was not "pudding-like" and only used up about half a cup or so of the milk mixture to cook. I wonder if I could cook the rice first and then add the milk flavorings and so forth? It'd be much faster. Because that's basically what this ended up becoming. I saved the rest of the milk to make custard with today, though, and I got to use saffron for the first time!

  3. TFL - It was a nice change of pace for sure.

    Jill - That's odd though, because why would the rice absorb less of the milk than it would water or broth?

  4. I made this tonight - it is FABULOUS! Thanky you so much for sharing it!

  5. Teri - Awesome! Thanks for coming back to let me know!