Inspiration for this dessert came after looking at some photo’s from our 2001 trip to Cambodia. In particular the char-grilled banana and sticky rice parcels wrapped in banana leaf. Simple, yet delicious.
Saying that I like my spices is a bit of an understatement. I adore them. The dessert I’ve created here takes the concept of sticky rice, but uses regular rice that has been baked in coconut milk, lime and a few subtle spices. There’s no need to mould them as I have as you can simply scoop the rice into a bowl and serve it that way.
If plantain is a little tricky to source, you can always go with regular banana.
Preheat oven to 170°C.
Mix the rice with the coconut milk, milk, lime rind, lime leaf, vanilla pod and its seeds, palm sugar, star anise and saffron. Pour rice mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish and dot the surface with the butter. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes. Continue baking for another 30 minutes, stirring again halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside. All the milk should have been absorbed and the texture should be very moist yet crumbly.
Allow to cool while you prepare the moulds.
For a prefectly-sized individual portion I used empty 125 g tins from sweet corn which I decantered then removed the top and bottom. A much cheaper way to get moulds than buying them from kitchen stores. Cut strips of waxed baking paper and line the inside of the moulds. Spray with a little cooking oil so the rice doesn’t stick. Drop spoonfuls of the warm rice into the moulds, pressing gently as you go.
To make the spiced coconut cream: combine all the ingredients, stir well and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. You can make this while the rice is in the oven.
To make the caramelised plantain: Heat a frying pan that will take all of the plantain slices in a single layer over medium heat. Melt the 1½ tbsp butter then add the 1½ tbsp sugar. Stir and allow the mixture to gently bubble for 1 minute. Add the plantain slices and cook for a few minutes on one side, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Pour in the juice and allow to cook down by at least half so that a syrup forms. Set aside.
To assemble, unmould the rice pudding onto plates or shallow bowls. Pour over a little of the spiced coconut cream, top with some caramelised plantain, drizzle over some syrup and garnish with toasted sesame and sliced almonds.
*Indian chai masala is a spice blend used for making chai and is available at Indian grocers or good spice shops.