Recipe courtesy of The Book of Jewish Food
Fragrant Milk Pudding (Basic Recipe with Variations) Serves 6
Milk puddings with ground rice are ubiquitous in the Middle East. For the Jews they are the all-purpose dessert of the dairy table and the traditional sweet of Shavuot and Purim. In Turkey and the Balkans such a dish was called "sutlage”; in Syria and Egypt, as in the rest of the Arab world, it was "muhallabeya." Every community has its own traditional flavorings and presentation. Use the basic recipe, and add the flavorings from one of the variations that follow. Each one transforms the pudding into something special.
3/4-cup (150 g) rice flour
5 ½ (cups (1-¼ liters) cold milk
½ cup (100 g) sugar
For the flavorings and garnishes, see the Variations
In a little bowl, mix the rice flour with a cup of the cold milk, adding it gradually and mixing thoroughly to avoid lumps. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil in a pan. Pour the rice flour-and milk mixture in, stirring vigorously, then cook on very low heat; stirring continuously until the mixture thickens. If you don't stir every so often, the milk will thicken unevenly and form lumps. Let the cream cook gently for a few minutes more (in all, 15-20 minutes)' Stir in the sugar and coo k until dissolved. Stir with a wooden spoon, being careful not to scrape the bottom of the pan, because the cream always sticks and burns at the bottom, and you want to leave that part behind, untouched. The cream might seem too light, but it does thicken when it cools. Pour into a large bowl or into small individual ones and serve cold.
• The most common way is to add 1-2 tablespoons orange-blossom or rose water towards the end of the cooking and to garnish with a sprinkling of chopped almonds and pistachios.
• For a Judeo-Spanish version from Turkey boil the milk with a stick of vanilla or add a few drops of vanilla extract or the zest of ~ lemon Serve sprinkled with I teaspoon cinnamon.
• My favorite pudding is with cardamom, a popular flavoring with Indian, Iraqi, and Iranian Jews. Add 1-teaspoon ground cardamom 1-tablespoon rose water a few minutes before the end of cooking.
• Instead of rice flour, you can use cornstarch or a mixture of rice flour and cornstarch.