Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spiced Rice Pudding

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A popular dessert reserved only for the occasion of a birth of a child, and Christmas.  Well, I don't to play by the rules, so I make it whenever because it's very tasty, and because I love any excuse to have more nuts, and because my daughter loves it too (she's now 18 months).  Inevitably anyone that walks in and smells the spices' aroma in the air, recognizes the dessert and asks: "Who gave birth?".   My family (extended) is huge and I can always think of someone who just gave birth, so this time it's for my mother's cousin's daughter who just gave birth to a baby boy.  Congrats R & T!
It's called Meghli (literally translates to boiled).  It's simply rice pudding where the rice flour is cooked in spice water.  We begin with an infusion of a handful of spices, let it steep for a while, strain it and use that water to cook the rice flour with some sugar (or honey, I tried it one time that way and it was great).  The infusion makes a really good tea, similar to chai tea, add some steamed milk and honey, you get your own Chai Latte (who needs Starbucks!)
The pudding is thickened on slow heat, then poured in individual ramekins and garnished with hydrated raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts), pistachios, and coconut flakes. The toppings can be added all together, or you can customize to your guests' liking.  For me, I like it with the works.
I'm still trying to figure out how this tradition started, so if you happen to know, please share it in a comment.
Spiced Rice Pudding
up to 6 servings depending on size
Spice water
8 cups water
1/4 cup anise seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2  fresh ginger, sliced
2 star anise
2 small galangal sticks, dried (1 inch fresh)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
10 cloves
 In a large pot, add all the spices into the water.  Let soak in the water for an hour.  Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes covered.  Turn off heat and let infuse for another 30 minutes.  We want as much of the flavor as possible.  Strain the spices and discard.  

Spice Pudding
4 cups spice water
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon power (optional for color)
Bring all the ingredients to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally regularly.  Pour into ramekins of choice.  Garnish with choice of nuts.

Garnish
1/2 cup almonds, raw
1/4 cup pine nuts, raw
1/4 cup walnuts, raw
1/4  cup pistachios, raw, coarse grind or whole
Coconut flakes (unsweetened) as needed
Soak almonds overnight (more if needed). Walnuts and pine nuts for 4 hours.  Almonds are ready when the skin slides off easily. The nuts make for a great healthy snack, even for kids.  Soaking them brings back the freshness and brightens the flavor.

4 comments:

  1. Adorable photos! and I love meghli!

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  2. Not sure of the origin but I read somewhere that the brown of the pudding represents fertile soil and the nuts on top are like seeds that will sprout and grow – a sweet (and delicious) symbol for new life. :)

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  3. Thanks Elissar, that makes good sense :)

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  4. Birth or no birth, nothing hits the spot like a nice bowl of "boiled". I usually skip the nuts and just like it with flakes, lots and lots of flakes :)

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