This time of year, all I want to do is curl up with a blanket and a warm bowl of something delicious in front of a beautiful fire. Having a sweet tooth and coming from an Indian background often means I enjoy experimenting with flavours in our desserts, and this Indian rice pudding is EXACTLY why I love playing with my food!
A throwback to my childhood
Cosy and comforting, this recipe for Indian rice pudding is not only a wonderful way to enjoy homemade rice pudding, but the addition of spices to it transports me back to my childhood days. The fragrant spices and earthy pistachio all in a warm homely pudding come together to make this an extra special dessert for me.
As a side, this dessert is not only delicious at any time of year, but has been a fabulous Diwali rice pudding when celebrating with friends in the past. And by simply swapping the condensed milk to a dairy free version, this dessert can also be made wholly vegan. If that is not winning, I don’t know what is!
What ingredients do I need to make this dessert?
- Pudding rice: this is a special rice that is short grained and more starchy than commonly used savoury rices. The result is a tender dessert with a beautifully creamy texture. See my notes below on alternatives if you cannot find pudding rice for your cardamom rice pudding.
- Water: to cook the rice in before adding in the other ingredients.
- Condensed milk: brings sweetness and extra gorgeous creaminess to the pudding.
- Cardamom: for a deliciously warming flavour in the Indian rice pudding with condensed milk.
- Saffron: gives a delicate flavour and a beautiful colour to this homemade rice pudding.
- Pistachio nuts: adds texture and a little balancing earthiness to this irresistible dessert.
- Dried rose petals: purely used for decoration, but makes it so very pretty!
What equipment do I need to make this Indian rice pudding?
- Digital kitchen scales*: I provide all my measurements in cups too, however I would encourage all bakers to weigh out ingredients using weighing scales when baking. A set of digital kitchen scales is so useful and totally an essential baking tool for me.
- Measuring spoons*: a set of measuring spoons is essential for any baker. This is because these are more accurate than using everyday teaspoons and tablespoons, which can vary greatly in size.
- Small saucepan*: to make the rice pudding in.
- Spatula*: use to stir the Indian rice pudding as it cooks. This is really important to make sure it cooks evenly and does not catch and burn at the bottom of the pan.
How to make Indian rice pudding
This delicious rice pudding Indian style recipe is so easy to make and is absolutely divine! Simply cook the ingredients together, before dividing between serving bowls, garnishing and passing around.
Step 1: Rinse the rice in plenty of water to remove any debris and excess starch, then leave to soak in clean water for about 20 minutes. Once soaked, drain the water before cooking.
Step 2: In a small saucepan, cook the drained rice in the water over medium-low until tender. There will be a little water remaining once cooked, but it should be starting to thicken up. This takes me about 10-15 minutes.
Step 3: Add in the condensed milk, cardamom and crushed saffron strands, stirring to combine well. Continue to cook on a slightly lower heat, stirring continuously, until thickened and beautifully golden in colour (thanks to the saffron).
Step 4: Split the rice pudding evenly between the serving bowls, then top each bowl with a few pistachio nuts and some dried rose petals to garnish.
What is the best rice for rice pudding?
The best rice for rice pudding is pudding rice. This is normally available in the aisle with the tinned rice puddings, rather than with the rices. If you cannot find any pudding rice in your area, the best alternative is a short starchy rice such as risotto or arborio rice. These will give you a slightly different texture in the pudding, but will yield closest results to pudding rice when making this Indian rice pudding.
Can I reheat rice pudding?
Absolutely, can you reheat rice pudding! Just make sure it is steaming hot before serving, adding a little extra water if required to achieve the creamy consistency.
Can I freeze rice pudding?
Yes, rice pudding freezes really well! Simply cook according to the recipe, then leave to cool completely. Do not add any pistachios or rose petals at this stage. Once cool, give it a quick stir to make sure everything is evenly combined, then decant into a freezer safe container or freezer bag, ensuring there is enough room for a little bit of expansion. Seal the container or bag, then freeze. Simples!
To enjoy the rice pudding again, you can either thaw it overnight in the fridge, or enjoy it immediately by reheating in the microwave or on the hob. When reheating the Indian rice pudding, you may need to add a little more water to the mixture as the rice is likely to have absorbed more of the liquid, drying it out.
Important: do not defrost the rice pudding at room temperature, as this could lead to the milk content growing bacteria.
Once defrosted: do not refreeze the rice pudding. Heat it only once more until piping hot and enjoy. If it is not finished, discard any remains, once again due to potential bacteria growth from the milk.
How can I make this gluten and dairy free?
All the ingredients used in this dessert are naturally gluten free, so no need for any swaps! However, please do check ingredient labels to be absolutely sure.
To make this Indian rice pudding dairy free, simply substitute the condensed milk for a dairy free alternative to make this a vegan Indian rice pudding.
Baking tips for this dessert
- If you cannot get hold of pudding rice (it is normally found around the tinned rice pudding in the store), another short grain starchy rice will work just as well. So other options would be rices such as risotto or arborio rice, as they are short and more rounded as well as giving a wonderfully cream result!
- I absolutely adore cardamom, but know it can be a bit potent for some people. My suggestion of ¼ tsp cardamom hence may be a little strong for some. This is especially true if using freshly ground cardamom, as pre ground cardamom loses its potency the longer it is stored. With all these different factors in mind, please feel free to adjust the quantity to suit your preferences.
- Rinsing the rice before cooking helps the rice have the best texture and not end up a slimy mess. Soaking rice helps start the rice off on absorbing liquid, so reducing the cooking time required. You can skip the soaking if you have no time for it, but I would strongly recommend rinsing before cooking this Indian rice pudding.
- As an alternative, you could use cashew nuts or even almonds instead of pistachio nuts to top this Indian rice pudding recipe. You could also add in some raisins as part of the garnish, if you wish, for extra flavour, texture and general yum!
If you have any other questions about this recipe, please leave me a comment below, I would love to help. And if you do make this recipe for Indian rice pudding, please do consider leaving a rating and review below. I would really appreciate your feedback to grow my website and it really helps others looking for a similar recipe too. Additionally, you could also post a picture on Instagram and tag me when you share it with the world. You already know I would love to see!
More recipes for you to enjoy
Here are a few other recipes I think you will love too:
Pistachio cardamom cake: This cake is packed with a delicate pistachio flavour and lightly spiced with aromatic cardamom. The cake is filled and covered with a wonderful cream cheese icing, extra chopped pistachios, slices of gulab jamun and rose petals for a truly stunning celebration cake!
Sticky toffee pudding: Light and delicious, this easy peasy pudding is especially good when served with lashings of smooth toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. This classic British bake is the ultimate comfort food, perfect for cosy autumn and winter nights.
Rose pistachio and cardamom loaf cake: Inspired by the stunning flavours of India. Here, earthy pistachio, fragrant cardamom, and floral rose come together in this eggless bake create an incredible stunning cake that is truly out of this world.
Thanks for joining me today, my friends! Enjoy and happy baking! x