Monday, December 15, 2008

Rice Pudding for a Chilly Day

I'm not a very enthusiastic meat eater mostly because I don't much like the smell of cooking flesh or the way most meat feels in my mouth and this meat has never really been part of my cooking repertoire. As we transitioned to a kosher kitchen, meat meals came to mean more fuss and trickier meal planning. The laws of kashrut forbid mixing meat and dairy and thus we have two sets of dishes, utensils, and cookware. And meat meals tend to be followed by not so spectacular desserts given that there can be no butter, cream, or other dairy products.

I could never eat meat again and be just fine but when my growing children request it, I try to respect their wishes, which is how I ended up with a 5 lb organic free range (but not kosher) chicken in my cart on Friday. The same chicken spent a couple of hours roasting to perfection after being rubbed with fresh rosemary, olive oil, and tangerine juice and was declared delicious by everyone except me. This time around, oh irony of ironies, I was the picky one! We followed the meal with my non-dairy dessert standby: apple charlotte.

The leftover chicken became part of a stir-fry the next night but when the dessert request came I was stumped. But only briefly. I thought a coconut milk rice pudding with Indian spices might be just the thing and set about coming up with a recipe by combining elements from Claudia Roden and this recipe from the web. Coconut milk makes a fine alternative to milk without all the weird additives in most milk substitutes. This dish takes a bit of patience since it calls for cooking the rice in the milk rather than working with leftover rice as in many rice pudding recipes. But the result is lovely: thick and creamy and slightly exotic and perfect with a steaming mug of masala chai on a chilly night. You'll find the recipe here.

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