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Muhalbiyat al-ruz (milky rice pudding)

Today marks the start of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day holiday signaling the end of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month. According to culinary historian and former Times food writer Charles Perry, " 'Fitr,' or the 'breaking of fast,' is traditionally associated with ... Read more

Total time: 40 minutes, plus soaking and chilling times | Serves 6
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons sugar, as desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons rose water
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios, toasted

Step 1Wash the rice and let it soak for 30 minutes. Rinse until the water runs clear, then drain.

Step 2Put the rice and 1 cup cold water in a blender and process until the liquid becomes milky and the mixture just begins to thicken to a paste-like consistency, about 15 seconds. Set aside.

Step 3In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat and add the sugar. Increase the heat to high and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the milk mixture begins to bubble around the sides of the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the rice and cook at a very gentle simmer until the contents are thickened and the rice is al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful to stir frequently, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan so the pudding cooks evenly.

Step 4Add 1 cup boiling water, stir in the crushed cardamom seeds and rose water, and cook at a low simmer just until the water is incorporated and the pudding again thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.

Step 5Remove from the heat and divide among 6 serving bowls or glasses. Allow to cool, then refrigerate, covered, until desired. Serve sprinkled with chopped pistachios.

Note: Adapted from "Cardamom and Lime: Recipes from the Arabian Gulf," by Sarah al-Hamad. She writes, "Milky desserts are very popular in the Middle East, and this one is a particular favorite -- the rice thickens to give it texture. There are many ways of making muhalbiya: with rice, with rice flour, or with corn flour, the way it is made in Lebanon and Syria. Top with chopped pistachios to add some color and crunch.".
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