Via: Martin Poole
Place the milk in a medium saucepan and add the rice and sugar. Split the vanilla pod lengthways with a sharp knife, scrape out the seeds and add both the pod and the seeds to the pan.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook gently, stirring frequently for 25 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the milk. Remove the vanilla pod and stir in the cream.
For the compote, split the cardamom pods if using and remove the seeds. Crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar to a coarse powder and place in a large frying pan with the remaining ingredients except the sherry. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until the figs are tender. Add the sherry, stir lightly and serve with the rice pudding.