Rinse the rice under cold water (just a quick rinse, no need to soak), drain, and transfer to a medium saucepan.
Cover the rice with cold water so that the rice grains are just barely covered with water. Set heat to medium.
As the water comes to a simmer, add the cinnamon sticks and lemon rind. Continue to stir often until the water has been absorbed (this will take approximately 3-5 minutes).
Add the milk (whole milk recommended) and stir well to combine. Return to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for approximately 10-15 minutes.
Add the sugar (start with just half a cup of sugar if you prefer your desserts less sweet) and salt. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook over low heat for an additional 15 minutes.
If the rice isn’t as thick as you’d like, continue to cook, uncovered, stirring often to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. As it cools, it will continue to thicken. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled.
Garnish with ground cinnamon and chopped nuts, if desired.