When I’m putting together a menu (which is a fancy way of saying “when I’m trying to decide what to make for friends”), I’m a big fan of sticking to one cuisine for several courses. Or, if that’s not possible (or preferable), taking the best out of similar cuisines and serving them up in a way that complements each one.
Last night, I had my wonderful friend Sofia of Beautiful Imperfect and her partner over for a rooftop dinner, and I couldn’t help myself; it was going to be 3 courses. A sesame salad / slaw thing, Vegan Laksa (always) and…something else. Something using Malaysian flavours, something coconutty but fresh. Something simple that would go nicely with the intense flavours of the Laksa.
This recipe was it.
Arroz con leche, otherwise known as Mexican Rice Pudding despite the fact that it originally came from Spain, is the cousin of our better-known rice pudding, the type that gets the skin on the top that grosses me out so much. This arroz con leche dispenses with the egg that’s a popular ingredient in Mexico and instead is made the way it’s made in the rest of Latin America; with cinnamon.
The mango in this recipe tied it together with the pan-Asian theme of the evening as well as balancing out the heaviness of the rice. This being me, I couldn’t resist throwing some cardamom in there – and holy mother of God, it was good. The salt is also essential in making sure the finished dish isn’t too sweet, so don’t leave it out.
You can eat this hot or cold, but I prefer to let the arroz con leche cool before layering it with the mango; for me, it’s just better. However, feel free to enjoy this delight however you see fit – but always with good friends.
(Feeds 4 to make mini parfaits. Perhaps 2 for full size Mason jar parfaits)
1/2 cup long grain rice
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
A couple of cardamom pods
1 cup coconut milk
1 large mango, skinned and sliced
a pinch of salt
Place water, rice, cinnamon and cardamom in a pan and bring to the boil
Bring down a simmer and cook until the rice is tender. This should take about 15 minutes
Strain the mixture so only the rice is left; discard the cinnamon and cardamom pods
Return the rice to the pan and add in the coconut milk
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Add in salt and stir well
Remove from the heat
In bowls or small Mason jars, layer the arroz con leche and the mango slices, drizzling on a little agave nectar if you see fit. These can either be served hot or be left to chill then kept in the fridge and served cold. I prefer them cold – but each to their own!