Black rice pudding is thickened with a scoop of chia seed. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Black rice pudding is thickened with a scoop of chia seed. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Black rice lends beautiful hue to more healthful pudding

Ground cardamom adds an Indian flavor twist to this reworking of the old favorite.

This pudding is a lot like the old-fashioned rice pudding you know. It is cooked the same way, by simmering rice in milk seasoned with warm, aromatic spices and sweetener until it thickens a bit. But this rice pudding is also different — something its purple color gives away at first glance.

That beautiful hue comes from the black rice used to make it, which not only provides intriguing color — infusing the milk with its violet essence — but also lends a more toothsome texture and whole-grain nutrition to the dessert. The warm spices include the usual cinnamon, but here it is coupled with fruity ground cardamom for a definitively Indian flavor twist. And instead of being sweetened with refined sugar, a relatively modest amount of honey does the trick while it adds another layer of flavor.

A finishing scoop of chia seeds serves to thicken the pudding — and it is to achieve the proper texture, because black rice does not absorb liquid and expand the way white rice does upon refrigeration. You will find its texture is chewier than your familiar rice pudding, which is on-trend, with the liquid a bit on the loose side. This is a pudding that offers a delightful new experience while keeping you well inside in your comfort food zone.

Black rice pudding

This recipe has the homey appeal of the rice pudding you are familiar with but in a delightfully different and more healthful way, thanks to the use of whole-grain, high-fiber black rice, honey and chia seed.

Make ahead: The pudding needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours, to help it set up.

Note: Black glutinous rice is the unprocessed whole grain of traditional sticky rice; it’s lower in calories and carbohydrates than white and brown rices. You’ll find it in some health food stores, Japanese markets and via online purveyors. Lotus Foods brand Organic Forbidden Black Rice is an acceptable substitute.

¾ cup black glutinous rice (see headnote)

1½ cups water

3 cups whole milk, or more as needed

⅓ cup honey

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chia seeds

Combine the rice and water in a large, heavy saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until water has been mostly absorbed.

Stir in the 3 cups of milk, the honey, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Increase the heat to medium; once the liquid starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cook (uncovered) for 35 to 40 minutes, frequently skimming off any skin that forms on the surface. The consistency of the pudding should thicken.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chia seed. Transfer to a dish or individual ramekins, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The pudding’s consistency should thicken further in that time. If it seems too thick, stir in a little bit more milk. Serve chilled.

Makes 8 servings (about 4 cups). Nutrition per serving: 170 calories, 5 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 75 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 16 grams sugar

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