Growing up in an Indo-Caribbean household in Guyana I was never a stranger to desserts using rice as a starch base. In fact, if I am being completely honest, combining rice with milk and sugar wasn’t uncommon as a quick and cheap dessert fix. In a strange way, limited resources allows one to enjoy the flavor foundations of a dish and sometimes inspires creative modification not heavily influenced by a repetitive experience of the intended finished product. As you no doubt know to be true of food, necessity often breeds creativity. I suppose in much the way that an apple pie induces sentimental reaction in many Americans, anything that combines rice with sweetened milk does the trick for me.
The more complex “kheer” or Indian rice pudding was and is a prominent part of the meal accompanying Hindu religious ceremonies. Sort of a grand finale after enjoying many strongly flavored and spicy curries, the rich, sweet, dense kheer would neutralize the lingering effects of spice on the palate resulting from the curry main course. The kheer, although delicious, often tastes of rice that is immensely overcooked. This version of the dish attempts to move away from that.
The idea behind this dish (quantities given here for 4 people) is to combine milk, cream (equal volumes to the milk) and rice (150g to 300ml milk) to slowly simmer and not overcook. Whisked sweetened egg yolks (1 egg yolk and 40 grams of sugar to every 50 ml of milk) and are then combined with the rice to lend creamy, light, fluffy, and sweet components to the dish. You might want to add a little spiced rum at this point, to add some complexity reminiscent of many apple cocktails. Of course, if this dish is created for religious purposes, you can skip this step. Finally, caramelized apple (cooked in hot caramel for 5 minutes) is able to contribute the much neglected textural contrast lacking in many versions of the dish, bringing us closer to perfect balance. The finished product is visually stunning and is sure to appeal to most palates.