1/2 cup basmati rice
8 cups whole or 2% milk, plus more if necessary
5 inches cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
4 green cardamom pods
Generous pinch of salt
6 Tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear, then drain in a sieve. Spread on a towel on the counter and use a rolling pin to break the rice into smaller pieces. You do not want a mush, or evenly sized pieces, you just want to break it down a little. Set aside on a plate or in a sieve to dry while the milk reduces.
Place the milk in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, then lower the heat until the milk is barely simmering. Add the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and to prevent a skin forming on the surface (if a skin does form, stir it back in), or until the milk has reduced to about 6 cups.
Add the rice and salt and continue to cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender, 35-40 minutes. As it cooks and absorbs liquid, the mixture will thicken; if necessary (if the rice is not yet cooked and the mixture is very thick), add a little more milk.
When the rice is very soft and tender but not a mush, add the sugar and stir gently to dissolve. Cook for another 5 minutes, then taste for sweetness and add a little more sugar if you wish. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Serve warm or at room temperature.