Rice pudding: world’s oldest comfort dessert?

Continuing the cooking theme…I had a little extra time today. Somehow my whiplash-inducing schedule paused for a day. Aaaah. So much better. Now, what to do?

I also had some extra plain rice left over from last night’s dinner. I considered eating it warm with butter and salt for lunch (it tastes like popcorn to me) but then I thought how I could make it into something all the kids could enjoy, too. So it became sütlaç, of course!

I think there isn’t a section of the globe that doesn’t have a version of rice pudding. Rice, milk, sugar, and then some variations. My mother never made it (to my knowledge) although I do remember a baked pudding once or twice. But I don’t remember it having rice in it. So I was an adult when I really came to love the comforting goodness of rice pudding. It began in college with cold Kozy Shack from the grocery store (only when it was on sale, of course), and my love for it grew deeper in Turkey.

We lived in Ankara during part of 2001 and 2002. Our daughter was nearly 2 years old when we moved there and the transition was a little challenging for her. For one thing, she wasn’t so sure about the new (fabulous!) foods we were trying to feed her in Turkey. The only thing she would reliably eat was sütlaç (pronounced SUIT-lach) a.k.a. rice pudding. At the restaurants, it usually came cold with a burned spot on top where it had gone under the broiler. Sometimes it wasn’t broiled but had a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. She eventually came to love most Turkish foods, even the rich Iskender Kebab.

So rice pudding became a family favorite. If you have a favorite version of this, what do you do differently?

Maren’s Turkish Rice Pudding (Sütlaç)
Makes about 4 cups

1/2 cup dry white rice cooked in 1 1/2 cups water and IMG_1230drained or about 1 cup of prepared white rice
4 cups milk
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 inch piece of vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1 Tablespoon rice flour
1 Tablespoon potato starch
1/3 cup water
Cinnamon

Cook the rice if needed. Put the milk, salt, sugar, vanilla bean, and rice in a large saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring.

In a small bowl, combine rice flour, potato flour, and water till smooth. Slowly add to the milk mixture. Bring back to a low boil and stir constantly for 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Remove vanilla bean pieces.

Pour into individual bowls or one serving bowl. Serve warm with cinnamon or cool in the refrigerator several hours, covered with plastic.

4 thoughts on “Rice pudding: world’s oldest comfort dessert?

  1. We do a coconut rice pudding in the slow cooker. Uncooked rice, coconut milk, etc. Then we serve it with crystallized ginger. Yum.

    • Merhaba ! I lived in Adana Turkey in the 70’s for a couple of years, and I loved experiencing the food. A visit to Istanbul a few years ago renewed my love for all things Turkish. We had lovely meals.

  2. My favorite is Ris Krem (however it’s spelled)–the Norwegian rice pudding boiled in fresh cream and topped with fresh raspberries. Very rich and very delicious! I’m surprised you didn’t have some at family gatherings. I guess you were in a family of your own when Grandma Jean started making it a traditional Christmas dessert. We hid a whole almond in it and whoever got the almond got a prize.

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