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National Rice Pudding Day

Rice pudding, celebrated and enjoyed today with National Rice Pudding Day, likely originated in China or India—both of which had societies based around rice during ancient times—or evolved from Middle Eastern rice pottages, a dish used to settle stomachs during Roman times. Recipes for baked rice puddings, as we know them today, materialized in the early seventeenth century. Rice puddings can be boiled, baked, or use both cooking methods. Rice puddings typically contain rice, a liquid such as milk, cream, or water, spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla, and other flavorings and toppings—often to sweeten it—like orange, lemon, rose water, sugar, brown sugar, honey, pistachios, almonds, cashews, walnuts, dates, raisins, and apricots. Baked rice puddings sometimes also have eggs, which give them a texture similar to custard.

Rice puddings range in flavors, from sweet to savory, being served as a dessert or as dinner. They have a range of textures and temperatures, too, from thick to thin and hot to cold. There are numerous variations of the dish around the world, with versions being unique to countries, locations, and cultures. One of the most popular ways to prepare it in the United States—where the dish is usually made sweet and served as a dessert—is with long grain rice, milk, sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins. It is often partially cooked in a bain marie on a stove and then baked in an oven. A few of the many other versions around the world are arroz con leche, a dish from Spain made with rice, milk, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon zest; payasam or kheer—from southern India or northern India, respectively—consisting of slowly-boiled rice with sugar and nuts; and firni, an Iranian dish with broken rice that is cooked with pistachios and cardamom until it is reduced to a paste.

How to Observe National Rice Pudding Day

Celebrate by making and indulging in some rice pudding! Make the version most common in the United States or try your hand at a version popular around the world. You could even make rice pudding soufflé. If you don't feel like cooking, have some store-bought rice pudding from a can or plastic cup.

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