Last year, I was introduced to saffron rice pudding and yellow rice pudding. The puddings, which are Middle Eastern in origin, reminded me of kheer and, separately, Egyptian baked rice. They were, above all, delicious. When I learned about the steps taken to make the pudding, it seemed a little more labor intensive than I had imagined (i.e., stirring the rice over a hot stove for several hours).
After some experimentation, and because of a lack of a pressure cooker, I finally figured out a less time consuming way to make the saffron rice pudding. The inspiration came together as I was straining my home-made rice milk mixture (this recipe is an approximation of my approach). I have been making my own rice milk for about a year now and always try to use the left-over non-milk portion in creative ways. Thus far, I have used the remains as porridge, in baking products and as broken rice. This most recent time, I had left the rice to soak (1 part brown rice to 2+ parts water) in the fridge for waaay longer than overnight and noticed that the remains were quite soft.
I had also, coincidentally, prepared Egyptian baked rice with coconut milk around then and so the pudding was not far from my mind. I decided to take the rice milk remains and continuously added warm to hot water, brown sugar, saffron (ground and suspended in water), rose water and a tiny bit of oil and salt. In about an hour, I had a product that was quite close to the delicious rice puddings my friends had made in the past.
[The pudding was eaten before I remembered to take final pictures. However, below are a couple of pictures taken during the process. The first is the mortar and pestle used to crush the saffron (courtesy of a friend) and the second was the initial stirring of the rice remains with water, waiting for the other add-ins.]
Here is a recipe, courtesy of Bram Cookware.
[NB: Instead of a Bram, we used a deep dish aluminum foil oven pan. We used Jasmine rice, which turned out nicely; we maintained the 1:2 (rice to milk) ratio; and opted for less butter (just enough delicate flakes to evenly distribute across the top). Baking time should be adjusted for yield.]
Yield: generously serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
This is a very traditional Egyptian rice dish that’s super easy to make and very good. It’s always cooked in a bram, an open casserole with high sides. It has a slightly creamy texture and can accompany any dish you’d normally serve with plain white rice. In Egypt, they use very generous amounts of ground black pepper over the top before putting it in the oven.
1½ to 2 qt. bram (see notes)
2 cups sushi or short grain rice (see notes)
4 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 385º F.
Place rice and milk in pot. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and stir. Distribute butter in thin shavings over surface. Top with generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Place on baking sheet as safeguard from spills. Bake for about 1 hour, checking after 30 minutes to make sure it is not bubbling over. Rice is done when you see a rich golden brown crust.
BRAM: This recipe is sized for our medium brams. If using a smaller or larger size, simply adjust the recipe accordingly. The ratio is one part rice to two parts milk. The ingredients should fill most of the pot before cooking, coming up to about 1 inch below the top of the pot.
RICE: In Egypt, this recipe is made with their traditional short grain rice that is very similar to sushi rice. This Japanese short grain rice is widely available in stores and works best to give you authentic results and a creamy texture. You can substitute it for medium or long grain rice such as basmati or jasmine, but expect a less creamy and much drier texture. Either way is good.
Besides enjoying 'good eats', my sister and I attempt to recreate dishes we have enjoyed elsewhere. Friends sometimes join us in the trial and error. Some attempts are more successful than others.