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Author Notes: Shir-berenj is the Persian incarnation of rice pudding, that universal comfort food.Milk, water, rice and cardamom are its indispensable ingredients, and depending on the cook, optional ingredients may include: sugar, rosewater, cream or half and half. Garnished with dried fruit or slivered pistachios. It is not a bold dessert but it not timid at all either - more like a pilgrim: pure, virtuous and good.
Shir berenj is a dessert but it also makes a decent breakfast and any-time-of-day snack as well. It is traditionally served chilled, but there is really no good reason not to serve it warm if that is your preference.
I find the plain flavor to be soothing and meditative, but if you must have it sweet, you do so with either sugar, syrup, jam, or honey to taste. You can also amp up the flavor and texture by topping your serving with a combination of fruit, dried fruit, and nuts. —Fig and Quince
- 1 cup rice (ideally the best rice you have, i.e. Basmati)
- 3 cups whole milk (skim or lowfat will do in a bind)
- 3 cardamom pods (don't sub ground cardamom, as it will darken the pudding's color)
- 1 tablespoon slivered pistachios (for garnish - optional)
- 1/2 - 1 cups sugar (optional - we prefer it without - your call.)
- Wash the rice (rinsing it a few times until the water runs clear) and drain.
- Transfer rice to a pot along with 1 cup of milk, 1 cup water, salt and cardamom pods. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and cook, covered, for approximately 10-15 minutes (or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice grains are tender.)
- Add the remaining 2 cups of milk to the cooked rice. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer (stirring gently and frequently) for approximately 20 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from heat. Pick out the cardamom pods and discard. Pour shir berenj in a big serving bowl or in individual bowls and allow to cool. Garnish to your taste as desired. Once cool, chill in refrigerator.