Khao Niao Mamuang, Thailand
This traditional Thai rice pudding is a favorite way to finish any Thai meal. The dish is prepared with glutinous rice that is first steamed, then doused in sweetened coconut milk. Lastly, the rice is served sided with slices of fresh mango. This simple dessert is incredibly popular, and it can be found at virtually any eatery in Thailand.
Serradura, Macau, China
Serradura is a Portuguese and Macanese dessert which consists of finely crushed tea cookies layered between a velvety combination of whipped cream and condensed milk. Traditionally, the cream was infused with vanilla, but modern varieties appear in different flavor combinations. Although the name, which translates from Portuguese as sawdust pudding, indicates Portuguese origin, this sweet treat has become incredibly popular in Macau. It can be bought in numerous bakeries, and it is a common dessert found on the menus of Portuguese-style restaurants in Macau.
Sholeh Zard, Iran
Saffron rice pudding known as sholeh zard is an ancient Iranian dessert that was once served only on special occasions. The rice is cooked in water and then enriched with saffron and sugar, while common additions include slivered nuts and spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. Sholeh zard is typically served in individual-sized portions and comes garnished with ground cinnamon, slivered almonds, or pistachios.
Muhallebi is a creamy dessert, in many ways similar to the French blancmange. It is made with a combination of milk and sugar that is cooked and thickened with cornstarch or rice flour. The dessert is usually flavored with orange blossom, vanilla, or rose water and is typically served cold. This simple treat is believed to have Turkish origins and is enjoyed in slightly different forms across the Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, and North Africa. Depending on the region, it can be garnished with typical local ingredients such as pistachios, date syrup, almonds, walnuts, shredded coconut, cinnamon, or raisins.
Kheer or payasam is an ancient Indian dessert, a creamy rice pudding that is made in several versions across the country. It is a common dish at numerous Indian ceremonies, festivals, and celebrations, although it can be consumed any time of year. Kheer is made by boiling rice, wheat, or tapioca with milk and sugar, and it can be additionally flavored with dried fruits, nuts, cardamom, and saffron. It is believed that the dessert originated 2000 years ago in the Lord Jagannath Temple in Orissa.
The traditional Lebanese rice pudding called meghli is a vegan, gluten, and dairy-free dish that is traditionally consumed to celebrate the birth of a baby. It is also said that the brown color of the spiced pudding is symbolic for the richness of soil, while the rough texture of the nuts on top represents growing seeds.
In addition to those symbolic meanings, the caraway in the pudding is thought to assist new mothers with lactation and bloat reduction. Meghli is made with rice flour, caraway, water, sugar, spices, a variety of nuts and spices, and is then cooked over low heat until the mixture can hold itself when tilted. It can be enjoyed both warm or cold.
Phirni is a dessert made with ground rice that's cooked in milk and flavored with almonds, saffron, and cardamom. A favorite in North India, it is most often prepared for special occasions or festivals such as Diwali and Karwa Chauth. Traditionally served in small clay bowls, phirni is always eaten well-chilled and garnished with nuts and rose petals.
Champorado is a thick Filipino rice pudding. Originally prepared with chocolate, nowadays it is usually made with cooked glutinous rice blended with sugar and cocoa powder. The origins of the dish derive from a Mexican chocolate-based drink known as champurrado, which was introduced during the colonial period. Usually enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or a sweet afternoon snack, Filipino champorado can be served hot or cold, drizzled with condensed milk, or accompanied by salted dry fish.
Gajar Ka Halwa, Northern India
Gajar ka halwa is a sweet pudding made with grated carrots, milk, sugar, nuts, clarified butter known as ghee, and dried milk known as khoya. The dessert originated in Northern India and Pakistan, but today it's consumed throughout India as an everyday treat or a traditional sweet during numerous Indian festivals.
This dessert can be modified by adding either seasonal or regional ingredients, and it can be consumed warm or chilled. The best-known variations of gajar ka halwa include the sugar-free version of gajar ka halwa made with papaya, red velvet gajar ka halwa made with cream milk, saffron, and rose water, a version made with ricotta and purple carrots, and beetroot gajar ka halwa.
Sago Gula Melaka, Malaysia
Just as its name would imply, sago gula melaka is a pudding dessert made from sago (the starch extracted from the pith of various palm stems) and gula melaka (palm sugar syrup). This pudding is a favorite among Malaysian desserts, although it is not universally found in eateries around the country, even though the recipe is straightforward.
Classic sago gula melaka only has four ingredients: sago, palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. The sago is boiled until the pearls become translucent, while the palm sugar is melted separately. A pinch of salt is used to enhance the fragrance and flavor of coconut milk, along with the pandan leaves.