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!