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Middle Eastern Rice Pudding


Middle Eastern Rice Pudding is a creamy and aromatic dessert that brings together the comforting flavors of rice, milk, and spices. This traditional treat is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth and can be enjoyed warm or chilled. Garnished with crunchy pistachios, it adds a delightful texture to each spoonful.



  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped pistachios


Step 1: Prepare the Rice

  1. Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and prevents the pudding from becoming too sticky.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  3. Add the rinsed rice and stir to coat each grain with the melted butter. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Step 2: Cook the Rice

  1. Add the whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, and salt to the saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  3. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, about 20-25 minutes. Be sure to stir more frequently towards the end to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Step 3: Add the Final Ingredients

  1. Add the water and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens again, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves from the pudding.
  3. Stir in the vanilla extract and evaporated milk, mixing well to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes until the pudding is creamy and thickened to your liking.

Step 4: Garnish and Serve

  1. Transfer the pudding to serving bowls.
  2. Garnish with chopped pistachios.
  3. Serve warm or chilled, depending on your preference.

Cook Notes

  • Rice Type: Short grain rice is ideal for this recipe as it tends to be creamier when cooked. However, you can use medium grain rice if needed.
  • Milk and Cream: For a richer pudding, you can increase the amount of heavy cream and reduce the whole milk accordingly.
  • Sweetness Level: Adjust the amount of sugar to your taste. You can also use a combination of white and brown sugar for a deeper flavor.
  • Spices: For a spicier kick, add a pinch of ground cardamom or nutmeg along with the other spices.


Nutty Rice Pudding

  • Add 1/4 cup of almonds or cashews along with the pistachios for a variety of textures and flavors.

Fruity Rice Pudding

  • Fold in 1/2 cup of dried fruits such as raisins, chopped dates, or apricots during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Coconut Rice Pudding

  • Replace some or all of the whole milk with coconut milk for a tropical twist. Top with toasted coconut flakes.

Keto Version

  • Replace rice with cauliflower rice and use a sugar substitute such as erythritol or monk fruit. Adjust cooking times as cauliflower rice cooks faster than regular rice.

Low-Carb Version

  • Use a low-carb rice alternative like shirataki rice and adjust the sweetness with a low-carb sweetener.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I make this dish dairy-free?

Yes, you can make this dish dairy-free by using plant-based milk alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk. Use coconut cream in place of heavy cream for a rich texture.


How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The pudding may thicken as it cools, so you can add a splash of milk when reheating to achieve the desired consistency.


Can I freeze rice pudding?

Rice pudding can be frozen, but its texture may change upon thawing. If you choose to freeze it, place the cooled pudding in an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.


How can I make the pudding extra creamy?

To make the pudding extra creamy, ensure you cook the rice slowly and stir frequently. Using a combination of whole milk, heavy cream, and evaporated milk also contributes to a rich and creamy texture.


What can I serve with rice pudding?

Rice pudding can be served with a variety of toppings such as fresh fruits, a drizzle of honey, or a sprinkle of cinnamon. It also pairs well with a cup of tea or coffee.

Middle Eastern Rice Pudding is a delicious and comforting dessert that is sure to please. The combination of creamy rice, aromatic spices, and crunchy pistachios creates a delightful treat that can be enjoyed any time of the year. Whether served warm or chilled, this traditional dessert brings a taste of Middle Eastern flavors to your table. Enjoy making and sharing this sweet, creamy delight with family and friends!