cooking with meditation

Indian rice pudding

24th February 2010

I wake up at 4:00 a.m. to a still-sleeping house.  I relight the oil burner on my altar and offered gratitude to my teachers, family, friends, and everything in my life.  There is so much to feel gratitude for!  I start my silence practice, finishing just in time to hear the birds singing their welcome to the morning.  I go down to the quiet of the kitchen and start making this creamy, soothing, comforting rice pudding.

My dear friend, Kristin, sent me this recipe in one of her amazingly magical letters.  I wait for one of these letters to arrive in the post from Oregon, America.  When one does, I am full of excitement in anticipation of what it holds and the knowledge of what it will inspire. Her letters become small magical packages and are filled up with her essence and her expression of her daily life, her solitude, her path to the Eternal Truth, and full of my dear friend. Sometimes I find feathers from her walks, recipes painted on the back of a postcard, leaves she has pressed, shells she has found, paintings she has painted, or little pictures from her daughter, Luna.  On this one occasion, she sent me this recipe.

In Winter, we make it weekly, starting early in the morning. The children slowly wake up at different times and silently join, taking turns in stirring, breathing, and the silence. When it is ready, we sit together and have it for breakfast before we all head off in our different directions – them to school, Jonathan to work, and me to the garden.

I am writing it exactly how it was sent to me (except I have recently added saffron).

‘This recipe takes time, dedication, and focus, but the best results are beyond ‘worth the wait’.  Be prepared for an hour of continuous stirring.  The stirring is done in a clockwise spiral direction or a figure of eight clockwise. While stirring, you must have no outer distractions such as the radio, stereo, reading, conversation, or television.  The idea is to feel what you are doing and to stay focused. Prayer, recitation, breath exercises, singing, or meditation are advisable and encouraged.

Indian rice pudding

A note to those avoiding dairy products.  I have made this with homemade almond milk – using 2 litres and simmering until the rice is cooked.  The result is still delicious, but it does miss that rich creaminess that the cow’s milk gives.


3 – 4 Tbsp ghee

1 cup organic white basmati rice

12 cups/3-liters organic full-cream milk

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

6 cardamom pods

1 pinch saffron (15 threads)

1 vanilla bean

½¾ cup maple syrup

handful sultanas/currants (optional)


1.  Melt the butter/ghee in a heavy-bottomed large pot over medium heat; add the rice and stir-fry until it is transparent, then add the milk, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and saffron.

2.  Scrape the vanilla bean along its length with a knife and add that bean “paste” along with the bean itself to the pot.

3.  Take a wooden spoon and dip it in the milk.  Note how high the milk comes up to the spoon.  Set this spoon aside.

4.  Take a new spoon (wooden) and stir continuously on a high flame until the milk boils about 10 -15 mins; turn down the heat to medium-high and continue stirring for 25 to 30 minutes more.

Remember to keep stirring!

5.  When the pudding has thickened and reduced by 25% from the original wooden spoon measurement, pour in the maple syrup  – continue to stir slowly but constantly to prevent scorching.  After about 10 – 15 minutes, you will feel the right thickness and creaminess has been achieved.

6.  The pudding continues to thicken after cooling, so remove from heat and add the sultanas if using.

When serving, sprinkle with cinnamon powder and or toasted almonds.  This pudding is lovely served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Goodness shared by Stacey

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