A lovely write up by April Kilcrease about rice puddings (in Rice Pasta Couscous) in Afar magazine’s blog. (If you haven’t seen the recently-launched Afar it’s the hottest travel mag on the newsstand. It’s the vagabonding cousin to dwell magazine.)
Soft, creamy, sweet, there’s something so comforting about rice pudding. According to Afar writer Jeff Koehler, the milky dessert “is one of the few universal rice dishes around the entire Mediterranean.” In his latest cookbook, Rice Pasta Couscous, Koehler offers three regional variations on the delicious dish.
The oven-baked rice pudding with mastic (sak?zl? f?r?n sütlaç) is inspired by his first trip to Istanbul in 1994. “The weather was cold and wet,” he writes. “Much of my time was spent in cafes and muhallebici, ‘dairy bars’ specializing in milky puddings. Creamy, baked rice pudding was a discovery for me, especially when flavored with mastic. Crushed tears of mastic give a piney flavor to the pudding and a chewier consistency.”
His creamy vanilla-scented rice pudding (rizogalo) is adapted from a Greek family recipe that has been “passed from mother to daughter for generations.”
He also includes a spiced rice-flour pudding (moghli) from Lebanon, where “families prepare this caraway-and-anise-laden rice-flour pudding for guests after the birth of a baby.”
Rice pudding (arroz con leche) is a favorite in Koehler’s Barcelona home. As he shares in his article “Absorbing Rice,” “when the weather cools, my girls start asking for…arroz con leche. These are the days when…the flat fills with the aroma of rice simmering in milk with sugar, cinnamon, and citrus peels. To me that smell announces autumn.” To make the traditional treat, follow the arroz con leche recipe at the bottom of his story.