Saturday, August 25, 2012

Armenian rice pudding

This is a delicious and easy pudding, adapted from Arto der Haroutunian’s Middle Eastern Cookery (Grub Street). It is traditionally served to visitors on the birth of a son, he tells us. "When I asked my mother what people served on the birth of a daughter, she gesticulated with her hands, shrugged her shoulders and said: 'Oh, a glass of orangeade or something like that.'"

I used raisins rather than the sultanas in the recipe, and pine kernels rather than split almonds, which some members of my family do not like.

75g pudding rice
1 pint milk
Peel of 1 lemon
100g raisins
100g caster sugar
2tbsp (yes, really) vanilla essence
50g pine kernels, toasted in a small saucepan over a very gentle heat

Bring a pan of water to the boil, throw in the rice, bring the water back to the boil, and drain. You’re getting rid of some of the surface starch and dust.

Put the drained rice into a heavy saucepan with the milk and the lemon peel. (I managed to peel my lemon in about five vertical strips.) Bring slowly to the boil, and simmer gently, uncovered, until the rice is tender and the milk is absorbed – by this, I took Haroutunian to mean that you want a consistency like that of a thickly soupy risotto. Stir in the raisins and simmer for a few more minutes. (I soaked the raisins first in boiling water, perhaps unnecessarily.)

Remove from the heat, and stir in the sugar, vanilla, and pine kernels. Chill.

Remove the lemon peel before serving, and loosen with a little milk or cream if you like.

These quantities will provide about six modest portions.

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