This pudding has a lovely color and thick satisfying texture. It keeps well enough to suitably make a day ahead. But you can also make it on a whim (like I did tonight) because it calls for ingredients I often already have in the pantry.
Purple Rice Pudding (with dates)
1/2 Cup Chinese black rice
1 1/4 Cups half and half (or milk for a lighter dish)
2 Tablespoons sugar (brown or white, both work. or honey if you prefer)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (use orange if you don't have a lemon)
small piece of stick cinnamon (or a pinch of ground, if you don't have a stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 Cup chopped pitted dates
(1) Use a saucepan to bring 1 1/4 Cups water to a boil with the rice. Decrease heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Do not drain any extra water.
(2) Add the dairy, sugar, half of the lemon zest, the cinnamon and vanilla to the rice. Return to a boil, stirring several times. Decrease the heat and gently cook for 15 more minutes, stirring occassionally. It will still be a bit soupy.
(3) Remove from heat and then stir in the dates and the rest of the lemon zest.
(4) Let cool a bit and serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: If you are making it ahead, transfer to a medium bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Then cover and chill. You may need to add just a splash of milk to loosen it before serving.
This is a stripped down version of a lovely recipe from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals that calls for using rosewater infused dates -- something I would never do because I particularly dislike the flavor of rosewater. If you do like rosewater, then soak the dates in a teaspoon of it while the rice is cooking.