My elderly rice cooker died earlier this year, and my lovely Mum and Dad forbade me to buy another one in the UK, where rice cookers are usually expensive and primitive. They happened to be visiting family in Malaysia over the summer and came back with creation’s most technologically advanced rice cooker – it’s digital and has fuzzy logic (I’m not exactly sure what that means); it has settings for congee, sushi, nasi lemak, brown rice, white rice, reheating and quick cooking; it works as a steamer for meat or veg; it keeps the rice hot and perfectly textured for as much as a day; and you can use it as a slow cooker. (It’s the Panasonic SR-MPA18 – good luck finding one outside SE Asia. I believe Panasonic also makes one that you can bake cakes in.) I love it, use it several times a week…and yesterday discovered that the fridge contained two bowls of leftover rice.
Cold rice in this house usually gets turned into fried rice, with the addition of some Chinese sausage, an egg and so forth. This time I fancied something different, and remembered the Indian mother of a schoolfriend who used to turn their leftover basmati rice into a very sweet, sticky rice pudding with milk, coconut milk and Indian spices in a frying pan. Here’s my attempt at something similar – I’m pretty sure that this is a long way from being authentic, but it’s close to what I remember my friend’s mother making, and it tasted great.
250g leftover cooked basmati rice
50g palm sugar (use soft brown sugar if you can’t find palm sugar)
1 can coconut milk
5 cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon, snapped in half
2 tablespoons sultanas
2 tablespoons mixed peel, plus extra to garnish
Put the rice in a frying pan with the sugar, spices, sultanas and peel, and pour the milk over. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring so the bottom doesn’t stick, until the mixture is thickening and the milk is being absorbed into the rice (5-10 minutes).
Spoon the coconut milk over the rice and continue to simmer over a very low heat, stirring now and then. The mixture will thicken as you go. When it reaches a dense, creamy consistency, take it off the heat and cover until cool. Divide into bowls and scatter each with a bit more mixed peel. This pudding is best eaten at room temperature, but you can also have it warm if you can’t wait!