Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Toasted Hazelnuts

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Toasted Hazelnuts

Many moons ago I was lucky to work for Canadian Chef’s Vikram and Meeru Vij. I learned so much from them. This dessert is a riff off their Kheer recipe. Instead of using cardamom and almonds, I use vanilla bean and hazelnuts but keep the basmati rice that produces a wonderful nutty aroma. This pudding has a light, loose consistency that can be served warm or chilled. Cook it like risotto: lots of stirring and attention makes for a better pudding. The toasted nuts add a welcome crunch folded in or sprinkled on top. If I’m really going to town, I serve it chilled with a sheet of edible silver placed on top of each bowl just like the Vij’s did at the restaurant. It elevates a dessert with humble origins into something sophisticated. 

Makes: Approximately 7 cups

Prep: 5 minutes 

Cook: 1 hour


Putting the vanilla bean seeds in at the end with the sugar, prevents them from sticking to the side of the pot as the milk evaporates. 


  • ¾ cup basmati rice 
  • 10 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds and pod 
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsalted hazelnuts, toasted, rubbed skins and roughly chopped 


  1. In a small bowl, add the sugar and use your fingers to work the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large heavy-based pot, add the rice, milk and vanilla bean pod. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring very often with a wooden spoon, for about an hour. Make sure you don’t scrape the bottom of the pot as you might discolor your pudding. 
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the vanilla bean.
  4. Add the vanilla bean sugar and fold in half of the nuts. (Chill the pudding in the fridge if you’d like to serve it cold, as I do.)
  5. To serve, divide the rice pudding into individual bowls and sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts, and the optional sheets of silver, over each bowl.