Bengali Bhat Payasa – rich rice pudding recipe

Bengali rice pudding

After coming back from India and needing a dish to take to a party, I was inspired to make this recipe for a rich rice pudding that I had come across and cooked about 10 years ago.  I found it in the book “The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking” which is a wonderful source for Indian recipes.

The recipe is very simple but does require a lot of time – you have to reduce 2 litres of milk to about half a litre, stirring all the time – this takes about 1.5 hours and is quite a good meditative practice. I advise you not to attempt to make it 1.5 hours before the dinner you are taking it to, which is what I did when I made it a couple of weeks back. Yesterday I made it for another dinner, but this time I had plenty of time to prepare it in advance.  Instructions to make it…

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Heston Blumenthal, In Search of Perfection

Heston Blumenthal recipe fish & chips

My interest in food has always drawn me more to search out authentic, cheap, local food in a small trattoria off the tourist trail half-way up a mountain in Italy rather than the three star Michelin route to good food. Therefore, I had never been very interested by three star Michelin chefs such as Heston Blumenthal.  The descriptions of “molecular gastronomy” did little to further my interest.  When I heard that his restaurant had been named “best in the World”, I thought that it must have been due to some kind of  strange British modern phenomenon like the strange choice of so many Russian billionaires to base themselves in London.  I further disparaged the poor guy by referring to his restaurant, the Fat Duck with a rather unpleasant alliteration when talking to friends.

So, when I heard that Blumenthal was making a series of television programmes with the BBC, I was uninterested.  I think they were also on at a time that I rarely watched TV, so I never saw any of them by “mistake”.

Then, last year on a trip back to England, I happened to catch an episode of his programme “In Search of Perfection” and I realised I had made a serious error of judgement. In these programmes Heston brings such a great mix of energy, humility, knowledge, analysis, research and humour to the subject of cooking.  It is also clear that he has an incredible ability with food and taste and shares his way of thinking about food in a very generous way.

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