Carrot Pudding, Gajraila from Pakistan
I realize there's been kind of a dearth of posts around here lately. Honestly, the kitchen's been a bit quiet. Most of you probably remember the hell of finals from your undergrad days, but let me tell you, as a TA, it's no better on the other side. Sure, you may have had to write a couple of 10 page papers and take some tests, but I just finished grading 37 10-page papers, and am in the middle of grading the same number of final exams. Of course, there are always a few students who make it all worthwhile, the ones I already miss and secretly hope e-mail me for life-advice somewhere down the road. I'm so frickin' sentimental sometimes.
But back to all that grading. It can be slow going. So if you find yourself sitting on the couch, red pen in hand, for hours at a time, I have a little treat that will bubble away quite happily, almost unattended. It requires periodic stirring, but think of it as an excuse to change positions every once in a while so you don't grow roots in that couch cushion.
The recipe comes from a wonderful little book I was recently sent called Endangered Recipes by Lari Robling. The premise of the four-color book is to collect all of those great, old-fashioned recipes some of us might remember from childhood but may not have thought of for a while. These are solid, updated classics. The thing I most appreciate about the book is that she doesn't assume that all food memories revolve around all-American dishes like apple pie. (Although that apple and quince pie looks mighty fine!) Instead, this recipe is a carrot pudding, or gajraila, a sweet treat you'd be more likely to find in a Pakistani kitchen than a typical American one. Robling's recipe asks you to chill it, which is what I did for some, but those spoonfuls I snuck before it was refrigerated were just as good warm. Did I mention that it even borders on healthy?
Carrot and Cardamom Pudding
From Lari Robling's Endangered Recipes
1 quart 2% milk
1/4 cup basmati rice (I used brown basmati, and that was fine)
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
Pour the milk into a medium sauce pan and add the rice. Allow the rice to soak off the heat for 30 minutes.
Add the carrots, sugar and cardamom. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it simmers. Cook, uncovered, for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
The directions say that if you want a thicker pudding, you can mash it with a potato masher or take your immersion blender to it. I went with the blender, and used it just enough so that there was still some texture left. Add the raisins and more sugar if it's needed (I didn't need it). Continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring once in a while so it doesn't stick.
After 30 minutes, transfer to a bowl or dish and refrigerate until chilled. Garnish with pistachios.
* Although it is meant to be served chilled, it is heavenly warm (I know from sneaking spoonfuls before it had cooled).
* A few events prevented me from adding the raisins (realizing at the last moment that I was out) and the pistachios (the $10 price tag at the grocery store) but I would use both next time.