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Purple Rice Pudding with Rose Water Dates

['1 1/4 cups water', '1/2 cup Chinese black rice', '1/4 cup finely chopped pitted dates (about 6)', '2 dates, pitted and cut into thin strips', '3 teaspoons rose water', '1 1/4 cups half-and-half', '2 tablespoons turbinado sugar', 'Pinch of fine sea salt', '1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest', '1 (1-inch) piece cinnamon stick', '1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract']

1 To prepare the rice, bring the water and rice to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Decrease the temperature to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender yet still slightly chewy, about 30 minutes. Some water will remain (do not drain).
2 While the rice is cooking, prepare the date topping. Place the chopped dates in a small bowl and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the rose water. Add the date strips to a different small bowl and drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon rose water. Stir the dates in both bowls and set aside, stirring once or twice more.
3 To finish, add the half-and-half, sugar, salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla to the rice. Return to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring several times. Decrease the heat to maintain a gentle bubble and cook, uncovered, for 15 more minutes, stirring every few minutes or so. The consistency should be creamy yet soupy — the mixture will thicken as it cools. Remove the saucepan from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the chopped dates and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest.
4 Divide the rice pudding among small individual dessert bowls or cups. Garnish with a few of the rose water-infused date strips, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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