The rose. Or should I capitalize, Rose? The queen of all flowers, its petals gracing the ground before royals from Cleopatra to Prince Hakeem.* Its symbolism for true love and beauty is a backdrop for its use in perfumery and desserts. The rose family also consists of a substantial number of edible fruits. Apples, pears, cherries, peaches, and strawberries are just some of the fruits related to the lovely rose. You can often tell they’re related to the rose just by looking at the flowers of these fruits: 5 petals, stamens clustered in the middle, sweet smelling – like a wild rose.
My first taste of rose-flavored ice cream in New Hope, PA felt exotic. Hey, I was 16 at the time. Soon in my college years I tasted rose in the sticky sweet syrup of baklava as well as gulab jamun. But up until yesterday, it hadn’t occurred to me to use rose in anything I made myself. I wanted something simple, delicious, and sweet. So I decided on Indian-style rose pudding.
Pudding isn’t very photogenic.
I struggled for about 10 minutes trying to get this concoction in a martini glass to work with me. There were repeated shots, angles from every direction, burgundy photo album backdrops, “casual” shots of the pudding next to Mike’s sunglasses and wallet, a formal shot with a cherry on top, even a desperate attempt to tease some sort of character from the rice and milk on top of a footstool.
I was inspired by this recipe, as well as this one, but used them for reference rather than directions. 40 minutes? 2 hours? Yikes, I had 30 minutes before bath and bedtime for the baby. The way I prepared the pudding was much easier and quicker, in my opinion. Also, a quick caveat: I can’t spend $20 just for one dessert. So I got the rose water, but figured that for the sake of economy I’d substitute cinnamon for the cardamom. I absolutely adore cardamom, but I just can’t justify buying both cardamom pods and the ground stuff for infrequent, possibly once every 3 or 4 month’s use.
Rose Rice Pudding
- 1/2 cup jasmine or basmati rice
- 1/4 teaspoon rose water
- 1 cup whole milk
- sugar ( I like raw cane sugar)
- almonds, finely chopped
- fruit (I used 3 black cherries, cut into small pieces.)
I have a rice cooker, which I highly recommend. Add rice to water, and cook about 15 minutes until steam is coming out of the cooker. At this point, add milk to pot along with some sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Add rice from cooker. If you don’t have enough milk, just add more until rice is covered. Stir rice and milk mixture until slightly thickened, about 5 min (you can also add fruit at this point if desired). Add almonds, rose water and sugar to taste. Cook 5 more min, until milk is thickened. Take off heat and eat!
* Prince Hakeem is Eddie Murphy’s character from the movie Coming to America. There’s an ongoing gag throughout the movie involving rose petals tossed on the ground by three lovely maidens.