What type of Rice is best for Indian Style Rice Pudding?
In Kerala style cuisine (which is what I'm most familiar with as an eater, not a cook) the rice is a short, white variety that is fried in ghee first. It's very similar to the short grain rice used in Japanese cooking.
I have no idea how this would be packaged in the United States, it's just Rice (for the short grain), or long grain/Basmati rice here. I depend on Indian friends to help me identify the good stuff.
As a cook, I find both the short, white style and plain white basmati work very well. The texture with the short grain rice is smoother, and you can taste more of the milk (or coconut milk) and cardamom. It's also very good served cold. The basmati produces a heartier rice pudding that is enhanced by adding extra raisins and cinnamon. I like this best hot.
You can use sona masoori..as the grains are optimum size for the pudding.
You can get away with what in Britain, we call 'pudding rice'. Generally speaking anything short and fat will do.