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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Vegan rice pudding

Cardamom growing on one of the spice plantations in Munnar.

Remember that article about preserving family recipes my friend Cheryl Tan wrote for the WaPo a few months ago?

For years, Camille DeAngelis, author of “Petty Magic,” resisted asking her grandmother and mother for their recipes for meatloaf, apple pie or pumpkin soup, for example, because of “the simple fact that no dish I put together will taste as good as my grandmother’s version.” Then, earlier this year, she got her grandmother’s zucchini souffle recipe and tried it out in her kitchen. “Apparently my grandmother has a great deal more patience than I do. The recipe calls for grated zucchini and onion, but after only a few strokes I gave up and took out the food processor,” DeAngelis says.

“The importance, for me,” she adds, “lies not so much in the preservation of the recipes themselves as in the memories of family dinners they evoke. Someday I want my children to know their great-grandmothers through the dishes they made.”

Since then I’ve been wanting to share Grandmom Kass’s rice pudding recipe, but I’m only now getting around to testing it. This dessert will end up tasting even less like the original now that I’m vegan, but maybe when I make this it can remind me of my grandparents and that beyond-delicious thimbleful of cardamom rice pudding I had in Madurai.


So here’s my vegan version. It’s easy-peasy and excellent comfort food—the way the cardamom mingles with the vanilla is totally magical.

2/3 cup uncooked white rice (I used ‘jasmati’)
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup raisins
4½ cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cardamom pods

Preheat oven to 325º. Mix all ingredients in a large casserole dish. Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, stirring regularly and taste-testing for sweetness once the rice has softened. Remove cardamom pods and serve hot or cold. Yields 6-8 servings.

Some notes:

  • You can add more raisins, but it might be a good idea to add more milk too, since they really suck it up while they’re cooking.
  • Of course you can skip the cardamom pods, or use ground cardamom, but it really does make the dish. (I can’t emphasize this enough, actually. Magical. For reals.)
  • There’s no need to cover the dish with foil (I wasn’t sure, so I called my grandmother to check).

Now if only that zucchini soufflé were so easy to veganize! (I picked up a box of egg replacer but I haven’t used it yet, so I’m still skeptical.)

3 Comments to Vegan rice pudding

  1. June 24, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Mmm … sounds really good. I will try it!

  2. June 24, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    A couple people on Facebook have asked for the original recipe, so I’ll post it here:
    1/3 cup uncooked rice (but I used 2/3 cup, 1/3 cup doesn’t seem like nearly enough rice)
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 quart milk (regular)
    1-2 teaspoons vanilla
    1/2 can of canned milk (evaporated) — about 6 oz.
    1/3 cup raisins (you can use more if you really like raisins)
    (there’s no cinnamon listed but I know she used a bit)
    Preheat to 325º, mix all ingredients in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish and bake for an hour and a half, stirring regularly.
    There’s an alternate version using 1/2 cup heavy cream instead of evaporated milk. In that case you’d add the cream after baking for an hour and a half, then bake for 30 minutes extra. (No idea why!)

  3. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    June 24, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I have that $13 bottle of cardamom that I still haven’t opened. Maybe I can give it to you in exchange for you making me some rice pudding 😉

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.