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Rez b Halib
arabic-style rice pudding


Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski

I’m not the biggest fan of traditional Lebanese rice pudding, which I often find soupy and overly rose- flavored. So, I created my own version, which came about during a love affair I was having with arborio rice. Fresh vanilla bean (another of my absolute favorite flavors), arborio rice, and milk make for a creamy-dreamy rice pudding that I finish with a sprinkle of ground pistachios and a light drizzle of Ater b Maward, rose water syrup. It’s also a perfect dessert to make a day or two in advance, as it needs time to chill in the refrigerator before serving.




8 cups (1⁄2 gallon) whole milk

1⁄2 cup arborio rice

1⁄2 vanilla bean pod

1⁄3 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, ground in a food processor into crumbly pieces

1⁄2 cup Ater b Maward rose water syrup 

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the milk and rice and place over medium heat, uncovered. While the rice and milk are heating, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the milk-rice mixture, using a small, sharp knife. Stir the pod and all the seeds into the mixture stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, and bring to a rolling boil, 15 to 20 minutes.


Once the rice and milk have boiled, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pot, and so that a film doesn’t form on the top surface.


Once the mixture begins to thicken and small bubbles appear, reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer slowly, stirring constantly for 5 to 10 minutes so the mixture is very creamy and has thickened to the point where it can coat a wooden spoon. Taste the rice; it should be chewy but not mushy. Pour the sugar into the rice mixture, and stir it in until completely dissolved then turn off the heat. The pudding should be medium-thick and very creamy, it should slowly slide off a wooden spoon but not stick to it completely.


Once the pudding has cooked, remove the pot from the heat and remove and discard the pod. Transfer the hot pudding to a serving dish and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Place on the countertop to come to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least one full day prior to serving.


Serve the pudding cold, drizzle each serving with 1 teaspoon of Ater b Maward rose water syrup and 1 tablespoon of pistachio nut crumbles, or serve plain.


VARIATION: You can also serve warm if you wish.


TABOULIE TIP! For a thicker version use 1 cup of arborio rice.


Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.

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