I have a dreamy whimsical dessert for you today. The so called “golden grain”, the roses and the jeweled fruit combine beautifully for a fresh exotic dessert.
While the suitcases are piled on one corner, a to do list is hanging on the refrigerator along with a calendar scribbled on and is fervently waiting to be checked off, I am already planning with my friends in India about the time when we will meet. Our 6 weeks journey for the summer is approaching soon and we have way too much to do before that. The end of the school year always gets frantically busy. And my heart is skipping a beat every time I think about getting to meet my family and friends; a lot of friends with whom I connected after many many years.
Well, the tidings of spring bring good times and there is always something to look forward to. More outdoor time, more breezy moonlit nights, the constant tweets of the mockingbird, the joyful sight of children swinging high up against the blue sky and
also watermelons, strawberries and roses…
Quinoa is an amino acid (protein) rich seed (though often treated as a grain), which would be considered the “gold of Incas”. Although, quinoa is not a very common pantry item, it is ancient, being native to South America. Quinoa is known to supply the diet with “complete protein”. I discovered this gem a little more than a year back, and ever since it has become a staple item for our weekday quick lunch; usually in the form of salad, with different vegetables, fruits (or both) and fresh herbs tossed with some olive oil and lemon juice, like this one.
Well today’s recipe is not a salad, as you would have realized. I had seen Aran’s Quinoa pudding almost a year back, and fell in love with the idea. Just recently when I made the Tapioca Pudding, I started looking into more options to make a pudding without using the traditional rice. With Aran’s inspirations, Quinoa had to be the next one to try.
I waited long to make the pudding; for some reason the flavors I thought of quite did not excite me enough. I thought of quinoa pudding, with Blueberry Compote or with Raspberry Coulis or even Mango and Saffron – I wanted something exotic, but none of them struck the right chord. I kept pondering, until the lovely spring arrived and the warmth of the sun set our imaginations and the rose bushes in fire, all in a few days.
It had to be rose!
All the other options faded into oblivion. If you are still wondering, we do eat roses. Yes, literally. Rose with yogurt, rose with milk and they also make very elegant desserts. Since we do not use chemicals in our bushes, the flowers are safe enough to eat after a good rinse. My kids have been munching on rose petals with a drizzle of honey. Who could say no to that?
In the mean time, I found some pomegranates; not a likely fruit at this time of the year, but we got greedy and bought a couple anyway.
With the rose and the pomegranates, the flavor for the pudding was decided, there was no looking back. Never before have I made a pudding with fresh fruit, and I was so looking forward to this. I knew would be good. Using rose water is an ancient practice in Indian cuisine. Not so much is the use of fresh flowers. But since I have a bountiful of fresh blooms, there was nothing to stop me.
We have combined rose and pomegranate before, mostly when we whip up a quick healthy snack with some creamy yogurt. The quinoa itself has a slight nutty flavor. I added some slivered almonds as well. The creamy chilled pudding, with the cooling and light aroma of the rose and the plump jeweled fruits was as fresh as the spring and simply divine.
Quinoa Pudding with Rose and Pomegranate
Ingredients: (4-6 small servings)
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 2.5 cups whole milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 3 tablespoons finely slivered/flaked almonds or pistachios
- 1/4 cup sugar
- a tablespoon organic rose water
- fresh organic rose petals, approx. 10 petals per serving
- fresh pomegranate, as much as you would like to use
Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse it well with cold water for about a minute. Using a fine strainer helps while washing quinoa.
Combine the milk, half and half, sugar, in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the quinoa and stir it in.
Reduce heat to low and cook for about 45 minutes, while stirring every few minutes. (I usually use a whisk to stir the pudding). If a film forms on the surface, stir/whisk it back. The milk will thicken and the quinoa should be cooked. Cook till you achieve the desire consistency. (we prefer our pudding not so think and dense, so I allow it to be a like a soup).
Before taking it off the heat, add the nuts if you are using them and stir them in. Cool the pudding and combine the rose water with the pudding. Chill the pudding.
Wash the rose petals and pat them dry. Chop the petals in small pieces and stir them in the pudding.
Top the pudding with pomegranates and more petals if you wish.
Few notes on the recipe:
This pudding was not thickened, like you would get a solid scoop. It as more like a soup consistency. If you like your pudding dense, simmer it longer for the milk to thicken.
I have used part whole milk, and part half and half, but you can use all milk, or heavy/double cream instead of half and half and adjust the ratio for the milk/cream/half and half as per your needs.
Any fresh fruit or compote or flavor may be used. The pudding recipe is a basic recipe, open to make it your way.