Vegan Dessert Recipes: Banana Chai Brown Rice Pudding

May 9, 2016
This was one of the first years in a while when I wouldn't be able to be with my mom for Mother's Day (long story short, you can blame the snow in January). I felt awful, of course, but my mom--bless her heart--wasn't as upset as I was; she told me not to feel bad because, after all, every day is mother's day in her book. And in mine. We made it up with an unofficial celebration, but in the spirit of her as ever correct advice, I realized I could do more to pay regular homage to my mom--and mothers that came before her. I never knew either of my grandmothers, and my mom's mom was famous for her cooking among other things. There are entire meals that my mom and her siblings can narrate the taste and eating experience of down to the spice and temperature, but none of this is written down. Anywhere. Which leaves me neither knowing my grandmother as a woman or via her cooking. Rice pudding is one of her famed recipes, but to be honest those two things never really appealed to me, let alone combined. Whenever I tried it, the too-creamy, too-sweet, gelatinous mixture did not say "comfort food" but rather discomfort for the mind and body. My non-Mother's Day mother's day tribute, then, became finding a way to channel grandma's pudding without any guidance and avoiding personal distaste. Hence this lightly sweetened, chewier-than-creamy, and very healthy "non"-dessert dessert. Here are humble brown rice and bananas thrust into the spotlight, plus my crucial secret ingredient: chai tea. Yes, you'll be eating tea leaves here, but you can think of it more like steeping the rice in your favorite, perfectly spiced beverage that makes you happy and warm inside and out. If that doesn't say Mom, then I don't know what does.
Vegan Dessert Recipes: Banana Chai Brown Rice Pudding

Vegan Dessert Recipes: Banana Chai Brown Rice Pudding

Recipe Type: Sweets
utensils YIELDS 4 servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 1 cup brown rice, dry
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 chai tea bags
  • 2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp. maca powder
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp. dry unsweetened coconut flakes
        graphic for recipe card


1. Cook the rice: combine rice, water, salt, and the contents of the tea bags in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes. Try to avoid opening the lid or stirring the rice while it cooks. *You will be tempted, because it will smell so good. After 45 minutes, place a paper towel between the pot and lid and let sit, closed, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. 2. While the rice cooks, mash the banana in a separate bowl with a fork. 3. Keep about 1 cup of the rice in the pot. Stir in banana, maca powder, and chia seeds, and heat for about 5-10 minutes. The mixture will be thick, but if you'd prefer it creamier you can add 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk, or until it reaches your desired consistency. 4. Divide into 4 small dessert bowls. Top with coconut flakes to serve. May be eaten hot or cold. If you prefer it cold, add another 1/4 cup of milk to the entire mixture, and let sit in the refrigerator 2-3 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Also by Jennifer: Vegan Tahini Truffles

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Photos: Jennifer Kurdyla

Features Editor Jennifer Kurdyla is a New York City girl with Jersey roots and a propensity for getting lost in the urban jungle. An experienced publishing professional, yoga instructor, home chef, sometimes-runner, and writer, she adopted a vegetarian lifestyle in 2008 and became vegan in 2013. She has written for The Harvard Review Online, The Rumpus, and Music & Literature and maintains a wellness-based website, Be Nourished, which features original writing and recipes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @jenniferkurdyla, Twitter @jenniferkurdyla, and Pinterest.


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