Last night we had a few friends over for vegetarian Indian food. I did most of the cooking ahead on Saturday, which meant that I only had a few tasks on Sunday and could enjoy my guests' company. The main menu consisted of old favourites: Bengali Dal, Saag Paneer, Aloo Gobi, and Channa Masala, accompanied by a carrot and chile salad dressed with lime juice, and a banana raita that is based on a pachadi recipe from the outstanding Seductions of Rice. The banana raita is fast becoming a must-have dish when we make Indian food at home.
Dessert was also from Seductions of Rice - a rice pudding flavoured with cardamom and rose water. It is creamy and light-tasting, despite being made with whole milk. I topped it with pistachios, as suggested, not knowing that one of my guests was in the process of developing a nut intolerance. Not an allergy, thank heavens, so he was able to simply remove them from his portion. The original recipe called for twice as much sugar as I used, but I loved the balance of sugar to rosewater and spice, so I don't think I'd increase it.
Cardamom Rose Rice Pudding
Adapted from Seductions of Rice
1 cup short grain rice, rinsed and drained (I used arborio)
4 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons rose water
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
pistachios and extra cardamom to garnish
Place the rice, milk, and water in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring, and back the heat off to a bare simmer. Cook and stir frequently for about one and a quarter hours. The rice may develop a bit of a skin, but just stir it back into the pot and it will be fine. When the rice is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed but still a bit soupy, add the sugar, rose water and cardamom powder. Stir in thoroughly until sugar dissolves, and remove from the heat. Transfer rice to a serving bowl or individual serving dishes, and allow to cool. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, until needed. To garnish, give each portion a "hit" of cardamom powder and top with a few lightly toasted pistachio nuts.