Rice pudding is a dessert enjoyed by people of different cultures all over the world, originating in Asia. It is made by combining rice with a sweetener and other ingredients.
Types of rice pudding
Rice puddings are found in nearly every area of the world. Recipes can greatly vary even within a single country. The dessert can be boiled or baked. Different types of pudding vary depending on preparation methods and the ingredients selected. The following ingredients are regularly found in rice puddings.
- rice; long or short grain white rice, brown rice, black rice, basmati, or jasmine rice
- milk; (whole milk, coconut milk, cream or evaporated)
- spices; (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger etc.),
- flavorings; (vanilla, orange, lemon, pistachio, rose water etc.),
- sweetener; (sugar, brown sugar, honey, sweetened condensed milk, fruit or syrups)
The following is a short list of various rice puddings from different regions.
- Kao niow dahm (Thai) Black Rice Pudding
- Banana rice pudding (Cambodian)
- Babao fan (Chinese, 八寶饭/bābǎofàn, 八寶粥/bābǎozhōu) Eight Treasure Rice Pudding
- Pulut hitam (Malaysian) Black glutinous rice
- Champorado (Philippines) Chocolate Rice pudding
Despite Japan and Korea being large consumers of rice, they do not have any porridge-based rice puddings; Instead they typically pound the rice into rice powder and make it into sweet rice cakes.
- Kheer (Nepali/Indian/Pakistani) with slow-boiled milk
- Payasam (South Indian) with slow-boiled milk, sugar/jaggery and lots of nuts
- Firni (Pakistani/North Indian) with broken rice, cardamom and pistachio served cold.
- Moghlie (Arab) with anise and ginger
- Riz bi haleeb (Eastern) or ruz bil-laban (Egyptian), (lit. "rice-in-milk") (Arab) with rosewater and occasionally mastic
- Shola-e-zard (Persian) with saffron
- Shir-berinj (Afghani) and (Iranian) Rice pudding
- Apelsinris (Swedish)
- Arroz Doce or Arroz de Leite (Portuguese) with milk, cinnamon and lemon
- Budino di Riso (Italian) with raisins and orange peel
- Arroz con leche (Spanish) with cinnamon and lemon
- Сутлијаш (Macedonian) - Лапа - typical rice pudding with black poppy seeds
- Grjónagrautur, hrísgrjónagrautur (both English: Rice porridge) or mjólkurgrautur (English: Milk porridge) (three different names for the same dish) (Icelandic); more porridge than pudding, and a common casual meal, not necessarily a dessert. After boiling the rice in water and milk, the meal is usually served with cinnamon sugar (a blend of sugar and cinnamon), milk, raisins, cream, or even cold slátur (English: Slaughter)) (Þorramatur). At Christmas one almond is hidden in the grjónagrautur. The one who gets the almond usually gets a prize or an early Christmas present.
- Milchreis (German) with cinnamon or cherries
- Mlečni riž (Slovene)
- Mliečna ryža (Slovak)
- Mляко с ориз (Bulgarian) with milk and cinnamon
- Orez cu lapte (Romanian) with milk and cinnamon
- Riisipuuro (Finnish) usually with either cinnamon or berries and served at Christmas with one almond. The one who gets the almond is supposed to have good luck all year (or get married).
- Rijstebrij (Dutch) or Rijstpap (Flemish)
- Risengrød (Danish) warm dish with milk, sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, and butter
- Ris á l'amande (Danish, after French: Riz à l'amande, rice with almonds) Risengrød with whipped cream, vanilla, and chopped almonds, often served with hot or chilled cherry (or strawberry) sauce. A particular tradition is often associated with eating Ris á l'amande, where a whole almond is mixed into the pudding, and the person who finds it (typically hiding it inside his/her mouth) wins a prize. Usually served at Julefrokost (Christmas lunch) or on Christmas eve and is very popular.
- Rizogalo or Ryzogalo (ρυζόγαλο 'rice milk', Greek) with milk and cinnamon.
- Riskrem (Norwegian) risgrøt mixed with whipped cream, and poured with strawberry jam.
- Risgrøt or Risengrynsgrøt(Norwegian) warm dish often enjoyed with sugar, cinnamon, and butter
- Risgrynsgröt (Swedish) warm dish often eaten on Christmas Day morning for breakfast, usually with cinnamon and sugar as topping.
- Risgrynspudding (Swedish)
- Ris à la Malta (Swedish)
- Riža na mlijeku (Croatian)
- Sutlijaš (Bosnian/Serbian)
- Sytlijash (Albanian)
- Sultjash (Albanian) Dialect
- Sütlaç (Turkish < sütlaş < sütlü aş 'rice with milk'), served either hot or cold; often browned in a salamander broiler and garnished with cinnamon. May be sweetened with sugar or pekmez or not. Said to have first been prepared in royal Ottoman kitchens.
- Teurgoule (Normandy)
- Oriz na vareniku (Montenegrin)
- Tejberizs (Hungarian) with milk, cinnamon or cocoa powder
- Сутляш or Мляко с ориз (Bulgarian)
- Sutlijas (Bosnian)
- Молочная рисовая каша (Russian)
- Молочна рисова каша (Ukrainian), also can appear as "кутя" for Christmas (served with dried fruits and nuts)
- Arroz con leche (Latin American) with cinnamon and condensed milk
- Arroz con dulce/Arroz con coco (Puerto Rican) with coconut milk
- Arroz-doce (Brazilian) with milk, sugar and cinnamon
In Canada and the United States of America, most recipes have descended from European immigrants. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Asian and Middle Eastern recipes have become more common. In the United States' New England
region, the most popular is made with long grain rice, eggs, milk, sugar, or in the U.S. state of Vermont
, maple syrup
. This is combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, and raisins. The pudding is usually partially cooked on top of the stove in a double boiler, and then "finished" in an oven.
In the United Kingdom
, rice pudding is a traditional dessert, and is very popular. Rice pudding is traditionally made with pudding rice
and is sometimes, but not always, flavoured with vanilla
. It can be made in two ways, in a saucepan or by baking in the oven. In a saucepan, it is made by gently simmering the milk and rice until tender and then the sugar is carefully mixed in. Finally, the cream is mixed in and it can either be left to cool and be served at room temperature, or it can be heated and served hot, it should have a very creamy consistency. When made in the oven, the pudding rice is placed into a baking dish and the milk, cream and sugar are mixed in. The dish is then placed in the oven and baked at a low temperature for a few hours, until the rice is tender and the pudding has a creamy consistency. Whilst cooking, the pudding may have developed a thick crust which, when eaten, adds an interesting texture
to the pudding. Ready-made rice pudding, which is pre-cooked and ready to eat, is sold in tin cans
and is very widely available and found in most supermarkets
. Because it is canned, it has a very long shelf life
Rice was first cultivated in Asia. Over thousands of years, various pudding recipes have developed in the Eastern Asia. Some include fruit and honey, while others are far simpler consisting of only rice, water and sugar.
For the west, rice pudding originated in the Middle East or Persia. The dessert gained popularity during the Middle Ages. Firni, one of the oldest of these Middle Eastern puddings, is made with rice flour and was introduced to India by the Moghuls. Records of an Indian sweet milk pudding occur in the 14th century. Shola, flavored with rose water, was introduced to Persia by the 13th century Mongols and is now eaten in much of west Asia. However the Indian Kheer has an independent history, as it is older than 2000 years.
In Europe, rice pudding with goat's milk was first used by the Romans for medicinal purposes. For this reason, the first written records of rice pudding occur in medical texts. Medieval European sweet boiled rice pudding often was made with almond or cow's milk. Rice pudding appears in 1542 in the then Danish town of Malmø. However, rice was an imported luxury item reserved for the rich. Baked rice puddings featuring elaborate spices and other ingredients appeared in the 17th century. In the 18th century, rice pudding began to replace rye porridge and barley porridge at festivities in Scandinavia. Over centuries, the European recipe has been simplified, resulting in the modern dish often criticized for its blandness.
Rice pudding in folklore
, rice pudding is traditionally served at Christmas
. It sometimes goes by the names julegrøt
(Yule porridge), or tomtegröt
). The latter name is due to the old tradition of sharing the meal with the guardian of the homestead, called tomte
(see also blót
The pudding is usually eaten with cinnamon
, with an 'eye' of butter in the middle. Sometimes an almond
is hidden in the pudding. In Sweden, popular belief has it that the one who eats the almond will be married the following year, whereas in Norway, Denmark and Iceland the one who finds it will get a prize, often a marzipan figure.
Often the leftovers or overproduction of the rice porridge is converted to risalamande
by adding whipped cream and chopped almonds. In Denmark the game of hiding an almond is often done with risalamande
, making it harder to find the whole almond among all the chopped ones that risalamande
In the region of Kočani, Republic of Macedonia is typical kind of rice pudding called Lapa. In fact, it is salted rice pudding prepared with baked poppy grains.
Rice pudding in literature
A reference to rice pudding is found in the third verse of the seventeenth-century nursery rhyme
, "Pop Goes the Weasel
Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
Mix it up and make it nice,
Pop goes the weasel.
Rice pudding is mentioned frequently in literature of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, typically in the context of a cheap, plain, familiar food, often served to children or invalids, and often rendered boring by too-frequent inclusion in menus.
In Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Kenelm Chillingly, a would-be host reassures a prospective guest: "Don't fear that you shall have only mutton-chops and a rice-pudding...". In Henry James' A Passionate Pilgrim, the narrator laments: "having dreamed of lamb and spinach and a salade de saison, I sat down in penitence to a mutton-chop and a rice pudding."
Charles Dickens relates an incident of shabby treatment in A Schoolboy's Story: "it was imposing on Old Cheeseman to give him nothing but boiled mutton through a whole Vacation, but that was just like the system. When they didn't give him boiled mutton, they gave him rice pudding, pretending it was a treat. And saved the butcher."
In Ethel Turner's Seven Little Australians, the children express dissatisfaction with their food. "My father and Esther... are having roast fowl, three vegetables, and four kinds of pudding", Pip says angrily. "It isn't fair!" His sister notes that "we had dinner at one o'clock." "Boiled mutton and carrots and rice pudding!" her brother replies, witheringly.
Rice Pudding is the title and subject of a poem by A. A. Milne, in which the narrator professes puzzlement as to what is the matter with Mary Jane, who is "crying with all her might and main/And she won't eat her dinner—rice pudding again—/What is the matter with Mary Jane?" As the poem proceeds, the reader comes to suspect that Mary Jane's problem is connected with the word "again."
An 1884 New York Times article is entitled "Living on a Small Salary: Close Economy Practiced by a Clerk and his Wife. They Live Comfortably in a Brooklyn Flat and Save Nearly $300 Out of a Yearly Income of $1000." "You observe", says the husband, "that although we have but little beyond the bare necessities of life we manage to live comfortably and happily." "Yes, indeed, we are happy", interjects the wife. The reporter describes their evening meal as a plate containing "a nice cut of beef, a couple of boiled potatoes, and a liberal portion of green peas." For dessert, there is rice pudding, which the reporter describes as "truly a delicious compound of rice and egg and sugared frosting."
A 1917 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, on treatment of Turkish prisoners of war in Egypt describes the food with approval. The "ordinary diet" is described as "Breakfast: Arab bread; sweetened fresh milk. Lunch: Arab bread; beef; rice, vegetables. Dinner: Arab bread; rice soup; rice pudding."
Rice pudding is mentioned with much more affection in an incident related by Walt Whitman in Specimen Days. Whitman visited an invalid soldier who "was very sick, with no appetite... he confess'd that he had a hankering for a good home-made rice pudding—thought he could relish it better than anything... I soon procured B. his rice pudding. A Washington lady, (Mrs. O'C.), hearing his wish, made the pudding herself, and I took it up to him the next day. He subsequently told me he lived upon it for three or four days."
In the play Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, Thomasina Coverly uses the example of stirring jam into rice pudding as an illustration of chaos. She wonders why it isn't possible to separate the jam from the pudding by stirring backwards. Her tutor Septimus Hodge asserts that it is because our universe is deterministic, according to the theories of Isaac Newton.
In Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the supercomputer Deep Thought derives the existence of rice pudding from first principles. This is to counterpoint between the complexity of Deep Thought and its task of exploring the eternal verities, with simplicity of the pudding.