No Bake Dessert | Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding … with dragon fruit & rambutans

“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something. ”
Mich Ehrenborg

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding … with dragon fruit & rambutans, a welcome and wonderful change from the rice pudding I usually serve. As much as we love the Indian version, with saffron and pistachios, this version topped with Thai fruit was a riot of colours. Pretty … and pretty yummy too! The idea of serving it came from a Phirni Custard I had done while reviewing Everyone Can Cook by Vikas Khanna, the inspiration for the skewered fruit from a BBC recipe I had seen somwehere.

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Mr PAB was on an official trip to Bangkok and enjoyed a whole slew of Thai fruit at the hotel there. I love Thai fruit, so bright and colourful, and full of flavour. It costs an arm and a leg to buy them here, so I was pleasantly surprised when he arrived laden with bags of fruit.

RambutansEnjoy them as is was pretty much how the plan was going. Some shots later, the daughter looked aghast that I ‘wasn’t doing anything’ with them! “Aren’t you going to make ‘something’ with them? How can we just eat them all?” I had no plans at the time, but soon after the head was buzzing!Strawberry Vanilla Macaron TrifleBaking wasn’t in my line of thought but something more fun certainly was. One of my most pinned images from the Vanilla & Strawberry Macaron Trifle was a contender. Yet we needed dessert the same night! The jelly would have to wait since it needed an overnight set. Rice pudding seemed plenty more tangible.

Rambutans SUCH FUN! In line with Thai fruit, I added some coconut milk to the rice pudding, and lemongrass and ginger juice for flavours. Beautiful undertones of a tropical rice pudding teased the palette in every spoonful … mild, gentle, addictive!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding 4If you love the gentle flavours of coconut milk, this creamy make ahead rice pudding is for you. If you have time, then maybe infuse the milk with lemon grass and ginger the night before. Strain and use. Or if you haven’t had time to think and plan like me, make a tight little bundle of lemon grass, grate and squeeze out the ginger juice…Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding 5The Indian rice pudding is traditionally a vegetarian, eggless dessert option. It’s creamy with beautiful texture. Gluten free too. This version, the Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding is a wonderful make ahead dessert option. Can be set in pudding bowls or serving glasses a day or two in advanceTop it with fruit the same day else the fruit tends to lose its shine and appeal!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding 7The basic recipe is pretty generic. For Indian flavours, you could skip the lemongrass and ginger. Use cardamom powder and saffron instead. The latter reminds me of a stunning Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta I made a while ago. That’s another great make ahead dessert option.

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Rambutans are similar to the Indian litchi, just a little firmer. The outer covering of course grabs your eyeballs. Amazing colours! The dragon fruit is another story altogether. I could stare at it all day long. The fruit of a cactus plant, in many ways it seems unreal!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding If the outer appearance is mesmerising, just cut through the fruit and be ready for magic! For me, it was a trip back to 101 Dalmatians! I fell in love with the black and white interiors, and the pretty pink contrasting inner membrane. An explosion of colours, nature that mesmerises, black and white that pleases! Wow!!

[print_this]Recipe: Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding your picture

Summary: The Indian rice pudding is traditionally a vegetarian, eggless dessert option. It’s creamy with beautiful texture. Gluten free too. This version, the Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding is a wonderful make ahead dessert option. Can be set in pudding bowls or serving glasses a day or two in advance. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Ingredients:

  • Rice pudding
  • 1 bunch lemongrass, bruised
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 200ml low fat cream
  • 100g basmati rice, washed, drained
  • 500ml 2% milk {350ml+150ml}
  • 1tin sweetened condensed milk {approx 400g}
  • 1 tin coconut milk {400g}
  • Fruit topping
  • 1 dragon fruit, diced with pink membrane
  • 200g rambutans
  • Simple sugar & lime syrup


  1. Gently heat the low fat cream, add the lemongrass and lime leaves and leave to infuse covered in the fridge overnight.
  2. Place the rice on a microwave safe platter, and microwave for a minute, stir, and repeat. The rice should be dry by now. Grind , stir into 150ml cold milk and reserve.
  3. Bring the remaining 350ml milk to a simmering boil & add the condensed milk, stirring constantly while adding it.

  4. Add the cream & mix in well.

  5. Now mix the ground rice with the reserved cold milk. Take the pan off the heat source, mix in the rice mixture thoroughly, & put back on simmer.
  6. Cook uncovered, on low heat, for 30-45 minutes until it becomes thick the rice grains are cooked. Stir often to avoid getting the rice into lumps.
  7. Cool to room temperature, then ladle into serving dishes to set. It will become thicker as it sets. Chill covered for up to 3 days in the fridge.
  8. Toss the fruit in a simple sugar and lime syrup {1/8 cup water + 1/4 cup sugar simmered until the sugar is dissolved}. Serve over the pudding if desired.


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Cooking| Katchi Biryani … perhaps Hyderabads most renowned biryani

“Biryani is often called India’s signature dish”
Pratibha Karan

Katchi BiryaniThis was an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss. It took a little organising. Mr PAB had to come in early from work to get the kids off the school bus. I had to bake like a mad hatter all morning for the next day was an early  soccer match {read 7.30am reporting time…brrrr}, yet I HAD to be attend the event. It was a demo workshop for Pratibha Karans delicious Indian cookbook, simply called – BIRYANI!biryaniI remember twisting my younger sisters arm almost a decade ago to buy me Pratibha Karans earlier book Hyderabadi cuisine – A Princely Legacy, which at the time cost a princely sum. It is entirely worth owning. Every picture in that cookbook is royal, the commentary steeped in history and culture. Pretty as can be crockery and tableware, with ancient bric-a-brac, used in the photographs, A Princely Legacy is worth every page. I have cooked  from it often, had many questions for the ‘biryani expert’ … which is why I HAD to get to this biryani workshop.Pratibha Karan, BiryaniWith such delicious thoughts in my muddled head, I hopped into a cab and was driven 25 miles in horrid traffic to get to the demo. The event was organised by Perfect Relations & Random House, hosted at  Godrej Nature’s Basket in Defence Colony, South Delhi.

The biryani is India’s most beloved dish — one that has spread to all the four corners of the country and assumed many forms. It originated in the Mughal courts, flowering in the jagirs of Awadh, and it is in Lucknow, Delhi and the small Muslim principalities of north India that one finds the classic versions, subtle, refined, and delicately flavoured. Pratibha Karan gives us not just the definitive recipes from these regions but unearths rare and old dishes such as a biryani made with oranges, Rose Biryani and Kebab Biryani. In the south, the biryani has an equally distinguished lineage, if not more so. There are the blueblooded biryanis of Hyderabad which include gems such as the Doodh ki Biryani, Keeme ki biryani and Bater ki biryani. Away from the royal courts, the biryani has adapted itself into a spicy local delicacy in Tamil Nadu, with many towns like Salem, Aambur, Dindigul boasting of their own signature version of the dish.

Katchi BiryaniPratibha Karan shared lesser known tips of biryani making with patrons of Godrej Nature’s Basket, and took them through the evolution of this mouth watering delight. She offered a blend of culinary, cultural and historical insights of this much loved dish, and shared her ‘Qabooli’ recipe {a vegetarian biryani} with special tips thrown in. The only disappointment was that there was no live cooking demo, which most patrons who attended the workshop expected. Else, it was a pleasure to hear her talk, to feel her passion for biryani and food culture, her eyes glistening with joy. She took questions from curious and enthusiastic foodies, guided them towards making the perfect biryani, sharing her expertise large heartedly. Armed with a copy of her book that Random House generously gave me, I left the workshop feeling uber-confident, ready to win the battle of biryani. {For those who are vegetarians, the book offers a number of delectable vegetarian biryani recipes too}.

Katchi BiryaniIt was just a matter of time and I got myself geared for the challenge. A challenge because I have had some miserable biryani failures of late, and have been cooling my heels on this particular front! I read the book cover to cover, wanted to try so many, and then finally settled for the Katchi Biryani, katchi meaning raw. In the authors words, “This is perhaps Hyderabad’s most renowned biryani. Both the rice and the meat are layered in an almost raw form in the pan. Therein lies it’s unbelievable magic. Many claim Katchi Biryani is th ultimate biryani dish”.Pratibha Karan, BiryaniI was sold, and just had to try my hand at the magic. I reduced the papaya marginally as I marinated the lamb overnight. I planned to ‘throw‘ together my biryani with minimal fuss the next afternoon, after returning from soccer, which is exactly how it went. Good planning {pat myself on the back}, it was a fuss free experience, and we waited with baited breath to see the outcome. Katchi BiryaniIt didn’t disappoint at all. My word, the aroma was great, each grain of rice was separate … I was walking on clouds. Mr PAB exclaimed it was the best ever; he had waited for this for 20 years! Wait no longer. Give this a go. After I made it and got it right, I did read a review on the web to say this was a fiddly biryani to get right. Maybe I’m plain lucky, or maybe I’ve ‘arrived’ on the biryani scene. Whichever way, this was a meal in itself, full of flavour, each grain of rice separate {test of a good biryani}, and tasted even better the next day!

Katchi BiryaniKatchi Biryani
FromBiryani’ by Pratibha Karan, pg 76
This is perhaps Hyderabad’s most renowned biryani. Both the rice and the meat are layered in an almost raw form in the pan. Therein lies it’s unbelievable magic. Many claim Katchi Biryani is th ultimate biryani dish.
Preparation: 25-30 minutes
Marination Time: 5-6 hours
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves 8-10
1kg mutton, mix of medium pieces from shoulder, and chops
1tbsp ginger paste
1 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp raw papaya paste {skin & pulp ground fine together}
4 onions, finely sliced {about 300gms}
15 green chillies, ground {I used 3 chopped, and 2 whole}
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp garam masala
500gm yogurt, whisked
Juice of 3 limes
650gm long grain rice {I used basmati}
A liberal pinch of saffron soaked in 1/2 cup warm milk
2 tbsp ghee
150ml refined oil
Salt to taste
Katchi BiryaniMethod:
Wash the mutton, and drain well. Add ginger, garlic and papaya paste to the mutton, and rub in well. Set aside.
Heat 150ml oil, and fry the sliced onions in this until golden brown. remove from oil, cool a little, and then crush by hand.
Add the crushed fried onions, remaining oil that the onions were fried in, and the remaining ingredients of ‘A’ to the meat. Add salt to taste, mix well and leave to marinate for 5-6 hours. {I reduced the papaya paste by a 1/4 tbsp, and left my meat to marinate in the fridge overnight}
Wash the rice well. Soak for 20minutes. bring 3 1/2 ltrs of water with salt and 1 tsp oil to a boil. Once the water bbegins boiling, add the rice and cook for about 3 minutes, until 20% done. Drain immediately, and transfer rice to a flat pan.
Assemble & serve:
Transfer the marinated meat to a heavy bottomed large pan, and place over high heat. Stir until it comes to a boil, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add a cup of water, and when it comes to a boil again, lower the heat and spread the partially cooked rice over the meat in a uniform layer. Cover with a tight fitting lid, and place a heavy weight/ stone over it to prevent the steam from escaping. Cook on ‘dum‘ for about half an hour. {I cooked mine for 25 minutes}.
Open lid, sprinkle the saffron milk over the rice, dot with the ghee, and cover once again with a tight fitting lid. Cook on very low heat for about 15 minutes, until the rice and meat are done and steaming hot. {I did the second 15 minutes of ‘dum’ cooking with a griddle under the pan. }
To serve, take out the biryani in large chunks from the sides without mixing to retain it’s multi-hued glory. Serve steaming hot.
Note: I grind a small green papaya, skin included, and freeze it in an ice tray. I keep the frozen cubes in a zipbag, and use 1 cube for 1 tbsp when required.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
Katchi Biryani

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