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Tibetan Apple and Honey Rice Pudding

This version of rice pudding, known as de-sil in Tibetan, uses broken rice, the lowest grade of rice, which is ideal for the pudding because the broken grains release starch as they cook, creating a thicker, smoother texture. [Editor's Note: If you haven't any broken rice, simply use long-grain rice and simmer it a few minutes longer.]

In Tibet, there’s a little brown root, rather like a miniature yam, that is gathered in the wild and then dried. Small piles of it are for sale in the markets, and it is traditionally used as a sweet flavoring in this rice pudding, sometimes in combination with raisins from Xinjiang. We substitute dried apple, chopped into small pieces, for the Tibetan root, and we skip the raisins, as we prefer to let the subtle perfume of the apple stand on its own. The other sweet flavoring is honey. Use a pale, clean-tasting flower honey.

Serve the pudding in small bowls for dessert or as a snack, either plain, or drizzled with a little more honey or butter or yogurt, or a combination. Leftovers make a welcoming breakfast.–Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Tibetan Apple and Honey Rice Pudding Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup broken or long-grain rice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup packed dried apples, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces, or golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons clover or other flower honey, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, or to taste (optional)

Directions

  • 1. Bring the water to a boil in a small heavy pot. Place the rice in a sieve and rinse with cold water until it runs clear. Sprinkle the rice into the boiling water. Bring back to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is soft, about 15 minutes for broken rice, a little longer for long-grain rice.
  • 2. Add the salt to the rice and then stir in the milk and apples or golden raisins. Raise the heat and bring back nearly to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to make sure the rice is not sticking, for 30 minutes. Stir in the honey and continue to cook until very thick, 15 to 30 minutes more.
  • 3. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, if using. (If left to stand for any time after cooking, the pudding will thicken even more. To reheat, place the pudding over low heat, stir in up to 1 cup more milk, and stir frequently as the pudding warms to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.)