Could there be a more comforting or welcoming dessert than rice pudding? When made with sushi rice or arborio rice, it becomes especially thick and luscious. Rice pudding has been on my mind of late, as Wesak is approaching here. A time when many people serve a lightly flavored rice pudding affectionately known as “Buddha’s Pudding.”
The story of Buddha’s Pudding
Over 2500 years ago on his search for understanding, Siddhartha Gautama spent six years with a group of ascetics attempting to gain control over their mind and body. They practiced extreme austerities resulting in Gautama’s extreme physical emaciation and weakness. Yet controlling his body and mind continued to escape him.
One day when he was especially weak, he fell down while attempting to stand. A young shepherd girl passing by saw how weak he was. She offered him a bowl of simple rice pudding which he gratefully accepted—to the dismay of the other ascetics.
Refreshed in both mind and body after eating the pudding, Gautama sat under a bodhi tree to meditate. He determined not to leave his meditation until gaining an understanding of mankind’s suffering. His patience was greatly rewarded. He became fully “awakened” (enlightened). This event happened during the full moon in Taurus. This timing is important as Gautama was born during the full moon in Taurus. And his death occurred during the full moon in Taurus as well.
The annual sacred event of Wesak, taking place during the full moon in Taurus, honors the birth, enlightenment, life and death of Buddha. Pilgrims from around the world gather in “Wesak Valley.” This area is near Mount Kailas in the Himalayan Mountains. Legend has it that great blessings emanate from this gathering. The blessings are thought to bring illumination and healing to the entire planet and its people.
A very simple Buddha’s pudding
I imagine that the original rice pudding served to Gautama was very simple. As usual, I’ve played with the recipe, making it more similar to and healthier than classic recipes. It’s still lusciously thick and creamy. Its slight sweetness comes from the raisins.
Feel free to adjust the basic recipe by adding more raisins or even some honey or maple syrup at the end. Serve rice pudding throughout the year dressed with fresh fruit, raspberry puree or just a light dusting of cinnamon.
No guarantees, though, that you’ll have an incredible meditation after eating this rice pudding. Yet a bowl of Buddha’s Pudding provides a delicious means for honoring this great teacher.
April 26th or May 24th or 25th? Some say the full moon in May, while others hold their sacred event during the full moon in Taurus. I see no downside to having two celebrations—we and our dear planet will greatly benefit from all of the blessings occurring in both the April and May events. If you have more information to offer to explain the differing dates, I’d love to hear from you.
Rice Pudding – Buddha’s Pudding
No need to rinse the rice when making rice pudding. This way the starches on the rice make the pudding thick and creamy. If you prefer your rice pudding sweeter, add more raisins and perhaps a little honey, maple syrup or other sweetener at the end.
Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan.
Makes 4 cups
Active time: 7 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
½ cup sushi rice (preferably organic)
6 cups rice milk or almond milk
Large pinch sea salt
1 cinnamon stick, about 2½” in length
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 or more tablespoons golden raisins
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
Optional: maple syrup, honey or other sweetener to taste
- Put the rice (unrinsed), milk and sea salt in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add the cinnamon stick. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer the pudding for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- In a small bowl, use a fork to blend the ground cardamom with 2 tablespoons of the hot pudding. When the cardamom is free of lumps, add it to the rest of the pudding along with the raisins. Continue to cook another 25 minutes stirring occasionally. The rice grains become very soft and the pudding luxuriously thick.
- Remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the almond extract.
- Spoon the pudding into individual serving dishes. Delicious hot, cold or at room temperature. The pudding continues to thicken as it cools.
- Serve Buddha’s Pudding as is. Consider topping rice pudding the rest of the year with fresh berries, a fruit compote, raspberry puree or just a light dusting of cinnamon.