Rice pudding Mexican style? Yes indeed Dear Reader and I promise it's absolutely gorgeous and different from any other rice pudding you've had. The main difference lies in the topping of candied chickpeas which are poached in a cinnamon and star anise syrup. To top it off, it has fresh lime zest to really lift this to another level. This is a pushy recipe if you're a rice pudding lover!
I got this recipe from what is becoming one of my most used cookbooks, Oaxaca by Bricia Lopez. I've never been to Mexico but I am fascinated by the food and its strong regionality. Although I found that I had to adapt the recipes because of cooking times and quantities, what I love is the flavour combinations that I would have never thought to put together. Rice pudding with sweet spiced chickpeas and lime zest? YES!
This Mexican rice pudding was made during that strange period between Christmas and New Year's Eve. It's an odd 6 days, where time plays a backstage role, where you eat cookies for breakfast, watch seasons of tv shows in between bouts of napping. What day is it? Who knows! Does it really matter? No!
Even me who loves to go out on a Friday and Saturday night clear forgot to go out on Friday because I didn't realise what day it was. Another day I decided that I was going to go late night shopping. Except it was Sunday. "It's Sunday?" I said to myself perplexed. You can imagine that it was quite a week for me where I had no idea what I was doing but I loved it because every other day in my year is strictly timetabled and every minute is milked until dry. I was slightly scared that I'd never want to return to my usual work schedule.
I set aside half a day to make this but truthfully it came together in half an hour which was very delightful (more time to relax). I will say that this makes a significant amount which is perfect for a crowd but not ideal for a small number of people as it is best fresh because the rice does gel together once cooled which is the nature of rice pudding. So feel free to make a half quantity but I figured chickpea tins come in standard sizes so you'll end up with more chickpeas. That's not a terrible thing as the chickpeas are delicious, particularly if you like Asian red bean desserts because they're just like that crossed with cinnamon and star anise.
I guess what I'm trying to say in a long winded way (because time is fluid as I'm writing this) is that you should definitely make this as it is delicious and unexpectedly gorgeous. Please note that the lime at the end isn't optional, it lifts it significantly so don't forget that.
So tell me Dear Reader, did you have a good time on the 6 day break between Christmas and New Years? Are you a rice pudding fan (I find people either seem to love or hate it!).
Mexican Rice Pudding With Candied Chickpeas
Adapted from Oaxaca by Bricia Lopez
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes concurrently
Serves 8-10 people (it makes a lot!)
For the Rice Pudding
- 3 cups arborio rice
- 6 cups water
- 4x360ml/12floz tins evaporated milk
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
For the candied chickpeas
- 1.5 cups water
- 250g/8.8ozs. piloncillo Mexican unrefined brown sugar (I used a Brazilian dark brown sugar block), if you don't have either, use a dark brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 1 cup white sugar
- 425g/15oz tin chickpeas, drained
- 3 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons of water to make a slurry (optional)
Step 1 - First start on the rice. In a large heavy bottomed pot with a lid bring 6 cups of water to boil and add the rice. Place the lid on and steam without uncovering for 15 minutes. Then add the evaporated milk, sugar, cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon and stir to thicken-it takes around 10 minutes or so to get it creamy and the rice soft.
Step 2 - While the rice is steaming make the candied chickpeas. In another pot, bring the water, dark brown sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise and sugar to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas to the mixture and they will cook and darken in about 5 minutes. If the sauce isn't thick enough you can keep boiling for a little bit (but you want the chickpeas to retain their texture so don't cook for too long) and you can also add the cornflour slurry to the mixture to thicken it on a low heat.
After adding cornstarch
Step 3 - Serve the rice pudding in bowls and top with the candied chickpeas. Sprinkle with lime zest (this makes it amazing!).