Citrus Cardamom Rice Pudding (Roz bi Laban)


This recipe has a special place in my heart.  It is how Heba and I met, so it symbolizes the beginning of midEATS! She was in search of a healthy rice pudding recipe, and I had just been laboriously making the 5th version of rice pudding for the week. She found my personal blog, she tried it, she emailed me, and then it was match made in heaven – ha! But seriously, this is how Heba and I met in the blogosphere.  Crazy how life will introduce you to people that may lead you to a path you never imagined!

Anyway, prior to this recipe, I had never made rice pudding properly.  The rice was either undercooked, or the texture was a gluey mess.  I was on a mission to get it right, and I realized just how many errors I had made along the way. First off, the type of rice that you use is very important.  Arborio rice, and short-grain Egyptian rice, tend to be very starchy.  Accordingly, you need to omit corn starch to prevent eating a glob of sweetened glue.  For long grain rice, there isn’t as much starch, so if you don’t use corn starch, you end up with soupy rice pudding.  No fun either.  I also had tasted very creamy rice pudding, only to realize that those were made with rice powder and not rice at all! These tend to taste more like muhallabiyya (a corn starch pudding), that is very delicious, rich, and creamy – but not the rice pudding my tummy was after.

I decided to try making a classic Egyptian-flavored rice pudding.  Usually, these only are flavored with cinnamon and rose-water.  The latter is an acquired taste, of which in my 30 years I haven’t yet acquired, so I try to avoid it at home.  I decided to try using cardamom but didn’t want it to taste too flat.  Thus, I added some fresh citrus zest, using lemons and oranges that I had in my fridge.  You can really get creative with how you flavor rice pudding.  Try adding coconut, pistachios, almonds, or even hazelnuts.  But, if you are feeling particularly Masriyya  (Egyptian), then try this version.  Warms a belly good!

Citrus Cardamom Rice Pudding (Roz/Ruz bi Laban)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

1 cup arborio rice or short grain Egyptian rice
2 cups water
3 cups of warm skim milk (pop in microwave for 1 minute)
1 1/2 cups of organic sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp rose-water or orange blossom water (optional)

(1) In a pot, add 2 cups of water and the 1 cup of rice on high heat.  Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover.
(2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.
(3) When the water has all been absorbed into the rice (approx. 15 minutes), add the contents of the mixing bowl.  Let the mixture come to a slow simmer over low heat. Cover. You do not want it to boil, otherwise it will boil over and make a mess. (Trust me, this is no fun to clean up…)
(4) Stir frequently – maybe every 10 minutes or so.  After 30 minutes, you will notice that the mixture has thickened. It will continue to thicken as it is cools.  If you like your rice pudding thicker, then let it simmer a little longer before removing and placing into serving bowls. Also, if you want it a bit more creamy, adding more milk is the fix. Give it a taste test to make sure the rice has cooked, and has no bite to it.
(5) Ladle into small bowls. Top with nuts, coconut, or nothing at all. Serve warm or chilled.  Enjoy!

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