Rice Pudding is universal – with minor variations. The Middle Eastern version has rose or orange blossom water instead of vanilla for flavouring.

Along with rose and orange blossom water, Middle Easterners use the rose-scented geranium to flavour desserts. When rubbed between the fingers, the leaves of the rose-scented geranium give off a perfume-like fragrance. A leaf or two are often dropped into a pudding or syrup and removed a few minutes later. So if you own such a plant, use it in place of the rose or orange blossom water.

50 mL (1/2 cup) rice – medium grain
200 mL (3/4 cup) water
125 mL (1/2 cup) raisins
10 mL (2 tsp) cornstarch
10 mL (2 tsp) rice flour
125 mL (1/2 cup) water
1 L (4 cups) milk
1 mL (1/8 tsp) salt
125 mL 1/2 cup) sugar
25 mL (2 tbsp) rose or orange blossom water

Place rice in a heavy casserole, add water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until all the water is absorbed

Place raisins in a small pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, drain in a sieve, rinse well and drain again. Set aside. Spoon cornstarch and rice flour into a small bowl and add 125 mL (1/2 cup) water a little at a time. Stir until smooth. Set aside also.

Add milk, salt and sugar to the rice and bring to a boil. Add raisins. Trickle the cornstarch mixture into the milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil while stirring. Lower heat to very low and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.

Remove from the heat and add rose or orange blossom water. (The pudding will still be liquidy – do not worry – it will set as it cools.) Pour into a serving bowl and cover with a lid. Cool. Refrigerate for several hours.

Makes 5-6 servings