Try as you might, it’s im­pos­si­ble to ruin, or even sab­o­tage, Delia’s recipe for this nos­tal­gic dessert

The Guardian - Cook - - The Delia Project -

ice pud­ding is like Lon­don’s East End: it’s changed a lot since I was lit­tle. When I was a child, the East End was a place where you might be robbed at knife­point in broad day­light. Day­light rob­bery is still a day-to-day oc­cur­rence in east Lon­don, it’s just that now it hap­pens in pop-up restau­rants.

And so it is with rice pud­ding. When I was young, rice pud­ding was sweet, sticky, jam-packed with E num­bers and came in a small plas­tic pot. It was, as it hap­pens, the first dessert I ever had. It was a reg­u­lar treat from our next-door neigh­bour, and it was a spe­cial one, as my mother’s idea of dessert was ex­tra cu­cum­ber. Nowa­days, rice pud­ding is sweet, sticky, but in­stead of E num­bers there’s cin­na­mon, sul­tanas, and it comes in a minia­ture pint glass or some other god-aw­ful re­cep­ta­cle.

Delia’s recipe for rice pud­ding is some­thing in be­tween the two, but def­i­nitely not some­thing you’d ex­pect to find in an egg cup in Shored­itch any time soon. The good news is that it is among the eas­i­est recipes you will ever make. I tried to make it go wrong just to have some­thing to write about, and hon­estly, I failed: Delia’s recipe for rice pud­ding is not just id­iot-proof, but sab­o­tage-proof.

The bad news is it in­volves some­thing called “pud­ding rice”, which I had hon­estly never heard of, but ev­ery­one else in the world – col­leagues, part­ner, ran­dom passers-by – seems to be in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar with. I know this be­cause when Delia asked me to buy “pud­ding rice” I com­plained to my part­ner that I was go­ing to have to shell out at Whole Foods or some other ob­scure shop and she laughed at me for at least half an hour.

Feel­ing wounded, I phoned home and asked mother if she had heard of “pud­ding rice”, be­cause I cer­tainly hadn’t, and she laughed at me be­fore break­ing into un­con­trol­lable sobs and say­ing “I have no son” over and over.

RThen I asked peo­ple at work if they’d heard of pud­ding rice, but I may as well have asked if they’d heard of milk.

Even­tu­ally I went to my lo­cal cor­ner shop, where, trou­blingly, the pud­ding rice is right next to the rice I have been buy­ing for the past three years. Clearly, I have pud­ding-rice blind­ness.

If, like me, you have never heard of pud­ding rice or per­haps you feel that be­tween risotto rice, bas­mati rice, brown rice and salted caramel rice (I made that last one up, but it can only be a mat­ter of time), you have too much rice in your house as it is, you may won­der if you need pud­ding rice. To an­swer that ques­tion, I de­cided to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of rice other than pud­ding rice, and I learned the fol­low­ing two things. First off: brown rice has many uses, but if you use it to make rice pud­ding, ter­ri­ble things will hap­pen. The se­cond thing I learned is that flavour-wise, risotto or bas­mati rice will work just as well, although risotto rice pud­ding has the tex­ture of a par­tic­u­larly ro­bust milk­shake, rather than a pud­ding. It’s slightly eas­ier to make rice pud­ding with pud­ding rice and if you are mak­ing Delia’s recipe for the first time or at­tempt­ing to make your own ver­sion of it, I’d start with that, but it’s not es­sen­tial.

Any­way, now I need to in­vest in a cou­ple of minia­ture pint glasses: we have peo­ple over and I said I’d serve them rice pud­ding.

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