Serves 4-6 / The exotic flavors of cardamom and coconut make this sweet rice pudding a comforting treat to end any meal. Using brown rice, it's even healthy enough to serve as a high-protein, high-fiber snack for kids. Prep tip: If you like rice pudding very moist and creamy, drizzle with additional coconut milk.

3 cups water
1 cup brown or white basmati rice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
⅛ teaspoon whole black cardamom seeds (not whole pods)
¾ cup coconut milk
⅓ cup agave nectar
⅛ cup chopped almonds, plus more for garnish
2-3 dates, chopped
Ground cinnamon, for garnish

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add rice, salt, cinnamon stick, and cardamom seeds; bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 35 minutes, until rice is just tender and there is still a bit of water in the pan.
  2. Add coconut milk and agave nectar. Simmer another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep coconut milk from scorching. Rice should be soft and tender. (For a creamier texture, let cool slightly and blend with a hand blender or food processor for several seconds.)
  3. Stir in chopped almonds and dates. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped almonds and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Serve warm.

PER SERVING: 364 cal, 28% fat cal, 12g fat, 8g sat fat, 0mg chol, 5g protein, 62g carb, 2g fiber, 156mg sodium

3 tips for authentic Indian cuisine

1. Buy whole spices and grind small amounts with a spice grinder as needed. Whole spices retain their fragrant oils longer. Once ground, they immediately start to lose intensity.
2. Dry-toast whole or ground spices for 30 seconds before using. This step can significantly increase a dish's flavors.
3. Add a touch of sugar to balance the spices. Without it, too much of the strong, pungent flavors may take over.