The Lebanese dishes are countless that include rice as a component. If rice isn’t there in a stuffing of some sort, it’s underneath as a beautiful, and delicious, bed that soaks up juices and contributes to the overall nutritive value of the plate.
When we make rice as an accompaniment to dishes like baked eggplant sheik al mehshee, long grain rice is preferred. Long grain offers the right texture and ability to cook and separate so the grains are distinct. Often rice served like this includes toasted pine nuts or almonds, as well as thin toasted pasta noodles.
Given the ubiquitous nature of rice in Lebanese cuisine, it’s not surprising that it shows up in dessert too. Finally this week we are going to make something sweet with our rice: Lebanese rice pudding, fragrant with orange blossom water. It tastes as good as it sounds.
The best rice for a pudding is medium or short grain. These aren’t difficult to find—just look around your grocery’s grain shelves and it will be there. Shorter grains make for a creamier texture while keeping a firm interier, which is why the short-grained Arborio rice is used in risottos.
This pudding is so homey and comforting, I think you’re going to make it more than once. Opening a bottle of orange blossom water is a heavenly form of aromatherapy, and the creamy goodness of the rice pudding is like having your mother stroke your forehead after a long day.
I’m afraid that now that I’ve crossed the line into sweets, we’re going to have a flood of them. That won’t be all bad though, will it?