DISH: Honeyed Rice Pudding Cereal with Walnuts
MAIN INGREDIENT: Leftover Rice
Next to fried noodles and hot raisin bread, rice pudding cereal was my favorite breakfast growing up. It was my only experience of rice pudding for a long time, perhaps until I was introduced, in middle school, to cardamom-flavored kheer at Mughlai, the best Indian restaurant ever. We used to go there in big groups and order so much off the menu that the waiters would wind up giving us dessert for free. After that, I looked up recipes for Indian rice pudding and found that they were completely different from what my mother always made. Good old American rice pudding, baked or stovetop, also uses a different method. They all start from raw rice, which cooks in milk for a long time, and, as a result, turns into a pudding.
We began with leftover cooked rice (from a takeout container or otherwise), which is maybe why we called it “pudding cereal” and not just pudding. The rice would have dried out in the fridge and was ready, like stale bread for French toast, to absorb the egg, milk, and flavorings we added. I am sure the starch in the rice plays a role in thickening the pudding, but the egg does too, and together they make the dish ready in less than twenty minutes. I think when I made the Indian rice pudding, the recipe demanded I stand over the stove for something like 2 hours. This is not that.
Though you can throw in raisins or cinnamon, or any other kind of oatmeal-type add-ins, I like this best plain, or, if not exactly plain, topped with a lot of plain white sugar. In fact, I usually go easy on the sugar in the actual pudding just so I can load it on on top. And then I don’t mix it in, at least not for a while, eating spoonfuls while the sugar is still crunchy and then stirring it all together at last once the sugar has completely melted.
1 cup cooked rice, at least 1 day old
2 1/2 cups milk
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons honey