Rice pudding has always been a favourite for us Indians. Fragrant rice is used to create this dish. The short-grained Joha is much loved in Assam. But ever since I came across the black rice of Manipur some years ago, rice pudding has taken on a different hue, and a richer, nuttier flavour. Certain outlets in our city stock this variety of rice. I got mine from a restaurant that specializes in ethnic food for 120 rupees a kilo. Maihang, the restaurant I'm referring to, also stocks a few kinds of tea and spices. All organic, of course!
Black rice is glutinous and said to be rich in Vitamin E and full of antioxidants. When the rice is soaked, the water turns into a rich burgundy colour. Soaking is necessary because it takes a little longer than the usual varieties of rice. And the fragrance that fills the house is enough to rustle up some memories of childhood smells that somehow come back triggered by such aromatic moments.
Black rice 1 cup (about 100 grams)
Milk 1 litre
Condensed milk ( I nearly emptied the tin)
Raisins about half a cup
Almonds about 10
Butter or ghee for frying the raisins and almonds
Wash and soak the rice in a bowl of water for one hour. Since I don't discard the water, I don't add lots of it. There's about an inch of water above the rice. Put a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove and add the rice along with the water. Let it cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the milk and stir every 10 minutes or so. As for the condensed milk, it is optional. One can add sugar according to taste. I didn't empty the tin (I poured a little more than half the tin) as I don't like to have my pudding really sweet. Continue cooking till it becomes thick and the mixture is homogeneous. This will take between 45 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile wash the raisins and remove the skin of the almonds by soaking them in hot water for ten minutes or so.Then slice them fine. Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a pan. Add the almonds and stir. Remove after a few minutes. Add the raisins in the ghee then turn off the flame as the raisins burn easily. Along with the ghee, add the raisins into the rice pudding. Stir. When the pudding cools down, serve in individual dishes and garnish with the slivers of almonds.