It's been a lovely sunny weekend and I've been running around like a crazy lady trying to get ready for a trip to Turkey. For those of you who read my blog (firstly, many thanks), that means that I am probably going to go a little quiet on Four Figs for the next two weeks. On the upside, I will hopefully be coming back with many wonderful Turkish-food-related posts and photos to share with you.
In preparation for my departure, I decided to cook something inspired by the country I will shortly be visiting, and so I dusted off my favourite Middle Eastern cookbook, Claudia Roden's excellent "Arabesque", covering Moroccan, Lebanese and Turkish cuisine. I've cooked an awful lot of tagine and bastilla from this delightful tome, but this time I decided on something a little sweeter. I settled on a delicious and frankly super simple Turkish dessert, which also happens to be a new (for me) take on one of my old favourites - the rice pudding.
This, like the potato gratin in last week's post, is a lovely comfort food dish for chilly autumn nights. I would normally use some nutmeg on top to finish but the rose water really adds a special something to the pudding. It also features a crisp caramel topping, melted under the grill, and my own addition of some roasted slivered almonds over the top to give it a little crunch and texture. I also reduced the amount of milk and eggs, as I based the dish on the ingredients left in my fridge. All in all, this is one more Roden recipe that is going onto high rotation in the Four Figs house.
Turkish Rose Water Rice Pudding
- 150 grams short grain rice (I used arborio, again it was all that I had in the house)
- 350 ml water
- 500 ml full cream milk
- 150 g white sugar
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste, which I prefer because you get lots of nice flecks of vanilla bean in the dish)
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 80 grams slivered almonds, roasted
Place the rice in a large saucepan and add the water. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer until the water is absorbed, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Next, add the milk and simmer on a very low heat until it is absorbed and the rice soft, but there is still a little bit of liquid in the pan. Don't forget to stir so it doesn't stick. Now add in the white sugar and vanilla and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and add the rose water and mix in.
In a small separate bowl place a small amount of the hot rice, then beat in the egg yolks. Finally, add this to the pot of rice and stir until the mixture thickens. Pour it into a heatproof baking dish and, when it's cooled a little, pop it into the fridge until the rice pudding is completely cold.
When the dish is cold, sprinkle the caster sugar over the top and place the baking dish under an open grill. It will bubble, melt and eventually turn into a lovely crisp, golden caramel topping. While I left the dish to cool, I sprinkled slivered roasted almonds on top. As the caramel hardened, the almond turned into a delicious brittle on top and added a wonderfully crunchy texture to the dessert. Finally, I put the pudding into the fridge to chill, and served it cold.
This creamy, sweet and musky pudding had a fantastic mix of tastes and textures, and comes highly recommended. For the next two weeks - cook, bake and enjoy! And bon voyage.