Orzo pudding – three decades apart
A memory from the first decade of my life – a winter afternoon in a small town in India, sitting in the verandah underneath a warm sun, mother patiently creating rice shaped little grains of dough. For a child, perhaps tiny objects are fascinating. I may have helped her make 50 of those grains. She made 500 more or perhaps a 1000 more. She sun dried the grains for a day or two and then made a pudding, like rice pudding. My mother is a master pudding maker, she usually cooks a handful of rice in a large pot of milk and adds crushed cardamoms and jaggery. Although the grains cook in milk for hours, they are always perfectly melted, never pasty. The jaggery enriched condensed milk tastes like melted butterscotch icecream. There was extra excitement over the grains of dough pudding but the memory of the taste is lost among hundred other perfect puddings.
Time shift a few decades later. Now I make this quick orzo pudding, a few times a year. Sometimes to honor that lazy afternoon and sometimes to satisfy an immediate craving for a dessert.
Ingredients (2 generous helpings):
- 4 Tbsp orzo
- 1 Tbsp butter
- A small pinch of salt
- 2 cups of milk (or Almond milk)
- 2-4 Tbsp of brown sugar (to taste)
- 2 Tbsp of raisins
- 1 Tbsp of bitter almonds (or 1Tbsp slivered almonds and 1tsp vanilla/rose essence)
In a heavy bottom skillet, brown the butter and add the raisins. The raisins will plump up – set these aside. Now in the same pan, toast the orzo grains until golden brown. Add the milk and salt and cook for 25-30 minutes stirring gently very 5 minutes. When the milk is nearly absorbed, add the raisins, sugar, almond and essence. Stir, take off the flame. This can be served hot or cold. I usually wait for 10 minutes before serving.
Orzo cooks in 15 minutes but when overcooked liked this, the starch is released making for the right pudding consistency. When cooked for the recommended duration, the orzo grains will plump up to 4 times the size. They still retain a little chewiness because of the toasting.
Variation: This pudding can be made with coconut milk as well. Replace milk with water and proceed. At the end, add 1/2 cup of coconut milk.