The use of coconut milk and mixed essence for rice pudding, or “sweet rice,” is what makes this a distinctively West Indian dish. The Angostura bitters make it totally Trini.
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
¼teaspoon mixed essence
1tablespoonsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)
Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh sieve or colander until the water runs clear. Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil and add the rice. Simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam from the top of the rice, as necessary.
Drain the rice and return to the saucepan. Add the coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the vanilla, mixed essence, bitters, and raisins, if using, and simmer for 10 minutes more—the rice should be soft, and the pudding should be thick but not sticky, with some liquid.
Garnish with the coconut flakes and serve warm or cold.