By definition, comfort food shouldn’t be complicated. If you’re spending hours in the kitchen stacking up dishes to wash or ending up with a dish that doesn’t make you feel like you’re living your best life, you might be doing comfort food wrong. Lebanese Rice Pudding is a tasty, healthy dessert that ensures you don’t have any of these issues. 

The dish comes together with only 3 main ingredients to produce a sweet, creamy and comforting bowl which is also nutritious. Known as Riz bi Haleeb in Arabic – which translates to Rice in Milk – is a favourite dessert for all ages and is very common in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s commonly made for Suhoor during Ramadan, the morning meal before the day's fast begins.

Also Read: The Origin Story Of The Famous Bread Pudding

There are different versions of the dessert depending on peoples’ personal preferences but it always starts with short-grain rice as the base. Jasmine rice is ideal for this dish but any variety that’s slightly starchy will do. Some prefer to wash the rice before cooking for health reasons, but this will remove a lot of the natural starch that thickens the dish so if you do choose to wash your rice, it might be necessary to add a corn starch mixture to maintain the texture.

While it can be taken plain with just the sugar for flavour, most recipes call for the use of orange blossom water or rose water for a subtle, fragrant finish. Topped off with ground pistachio nuts, it becomes a healthy option that can be enjoyed as breakfast or a dessert at any time of the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice 
  • 3 cups water
  • 7 cups milk
  • 1.5 cup sugar or more, taste for preference
  • 3 tbsps. orange blossom water/ rose water
  • Ground Pistachio for garnishing (optional)

Corn Starch Mix (if you wash the rice)

  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 3 tbsps. water

Method:

  • Bring the water to a boil. Wash and drain the rice and then cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the water is thick and almost gone. Do not dry completely. (Cooking time will vary depending on the type of rice you use).
  • Add in the milk, sugar and fragrant water. Once the pudding starts to boil again, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the liquid thickens up a bit more. Stir occasionally.
  • Add in the corn starch mixture and let the pudding cook for another 5 minutes more on low heat while stirring.
  • Once the pudding is thick enough, you can then transfer it into small bowls. Do not wait too long to do that because the pudding will thicken up more after it gets cool. Cool at room temperature.
  • Once the pudding is cool, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to store.