chai spiced rice pudding

With so much information about food at our fingertips it’s easy to become overwhelmed about what we should be doing to be healthy. Low carb, low fat, paleo, vegan, gluten free – the choices are endless. And no matter how well we look after ourselves, it’s easy to feel that we still aren’t doing enough. I wonder, how many of us are actually at peace with the choices we make about food? My guess is that, many of you are constantly on your own case, expecting yourselves to eat more greens, eat less chocolate, drink more water, drink less wine; the details change for each of us but the feeling is the same, and it’s a feeling I’ve known well. We beat ourselves up for falling short of perfect.

But what if we thought about the stress we put on ourselves as something negative that we need to give up? It’s not new information that stress contributes to ill health, creates acidity in the body and is generally bad for us. We already know this right? So why is it then, that we think that stressing ourselves out about our less than perfect lifestyles is going to help us?

Is it not more helpful to think about our health in terms of the things that we do do, instead of being about what we restrict or deny ourselves? Rather than thinking of myself as following a particular diet, I like to think of myself as having a lifestyle, or food life, that incorporates all the choices that I make around food, both on a physical level, and also in a social, emotional, environmental and political sense too. I try to make these choices in the positive, focussing on the things that I want in my life, not what I don’t.

We all have our own unique food life, and on a collective scale it becomes a food culture. I believe that the basis of any food culture (or food life) should be nourishment, connection and pleasure. So I suggest that we all aim to create a positive food life for ourselves, based on what works for us, and embrace it wholeheartedly. For these reasons, in my food life, I let desserts make a special appearance now and then. And when they do, they are to be shared, savoured and enjoyed, without a shred of guilt.

Whatever your food life looks like, I hope it nourishes you in many ways.

Sam xo

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding – serves 6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g short grain rice
  • 6 cups (1.5L) full-cream milk (I’ve used organic cow’s milk, but you can use plant milk if you prefer)
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or ¼ tsp ground cinnamon)
  • 1 star anise
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch saffron strands
  • ¼ cup (50g) raw caster sugar

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan, add the rice and stir gently to warm it.

Add the milk and spices, and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat and simmer steadily for about 10 minutes, stirring quite often to make sure it doesn’t stick.

Add the sugar and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring as before.

Just as the rice is tender and creamy, but with still some milky liquid left, remove it from the heat and serve, topped with whatever prettiness you like, such as saffron strands, dried rose petals or pistachios.

12 thoughts on “chai spiced rice pudding

  1. cityhippyfarmgirl

    There should never be guilt attached to food. Guilt for not remembering to water your neighbours garden for two days over summer, but not food. Never food.
    Now I made a chai rice pudding a few months ago and it was delicious but I could not make it look beyond a bowl of slop, so that post never made it out. So glad I didn’t because damn, this looks divine!


  2. sam @ nourish Post author

    Absolutely Brydie, I couldn’t agree more! It is disappointing when photos don’t turn out the way you see them in your head…but I’m sure that’s all behind you now after the awesome workshop (still jealous!) 😉


  3. Margot @ Gather and Graze

    These little pots of spiced rice pudding look amazing Sam! We never grew up with rice pudding being on the menu for dessert, so it’s not something that I’ve ever thought to make before. Your recipe being infused with such beautiful spices though, really makes me want to try it! With no guilt attached whatsoever – it looks pretty healthy to me… 🙂


  4. sam @ nourish Post author

    I hope you do Margot. I made it again today with one of my kitchen garden groups, topped with freshly picked strawberries and red currants from the garden. The tartness of the fruit was perfect against the creaminess and was it as pretty as could be too! 🙂


  5. Erin B (@SheCooksGardens)

    These little puddings look lovely, Sam. I grew up eating this stuff but it was so laden with sugar that I tend to steer clear of it these days for all the reasons you’ve written.

    I think it is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we have to do everything perfectly that we forget how important it is to just live in the moment and do what makes us happy. I feel like my body lets me know when I’ve gone too far one way or the other, the real test (at least for me) is knowing how to correct that and I don’t know that we ever truly master that but I do the best I can and I think that’s ok.


  6. sam @ nourish Post author

    That’s great that you’re in touch with your body Erin. I think if that happens naturally when you lead a mostly healthy lifestyle. I remember when my kids were little and had sleepovers with their doting and sweet-toothed Nana, they would come home and guzzle water and devour salad or veggies like their lives depended on it. After all the sweet foods they’d eaten, their little bodies knew just what they needed!


  7. lyndenarts

    Yummo! Beautiful presentation and sentiments! May I suggest trying ghee instead of the olive oil? It is a very healthy element in Ayurveda cooking and keeps us moist on the inside. Much love…


  8. sam @ nourish Post author

    You can certainly use ghee if you prefer Lynden. The recipes that I share here are usually made by my kitchen garden students in their classes so I tend to favour ingredients that are generally well known and easily accessible to everyone. That way it’s easy for them to go home and try them in their own kitchens – which is my aim after all! 🙂


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