It all began with a recipe for Ottolenghi’s chocolate-dipped florentines I saw on another blog. My curiosity was piqued and I first purchased the Jerusalem cookbook, in which Yotam Ottolenghi teams up with his friend and co-owner of his restaurants, Sami Tamim. The flavours in that book are very, very familiar to me. As the daughter of a Jerusalem-born Armenian, and the wife of a Lebanese-born Armenian, the recipes in this book use very familiar flavour combinations and ingredients and reinvent those comforting childhood favourites to something almost magical.
It might seem like I’m waxing poetic here, unnecessarily, but I’ve been working my way through that cookbook and it is nothing short of amazing. I have since gone on to purchase the Plenty cookbook and the eponymous cookbook, Ottolenghi. But I relate the most of all to the book, “Jerusalem” and this recipe for cinnamon rice-pudding is the perfect example why. It uses the types of ingredients I know from Middle Eastern cooking in recipes that are comfort food classics. And the result is astounding. I wanted to hoard this rice pudding all to myself, to be honest.
Substitutions: I only used sour cherries and had to leave out the edible rose petals simply because I couldn’t find any. I found the rosewater at my local Armenian grocer and I used superfine sugar to replace the caster sugar – you can also whiz regular granulated sugar in your food processor for about 10 seconds. I didn’t know what the recipe meant by pudding rice, so I just used regular short-grain rice to make sure it was as creamy as possible.
I have to say it didn’t get quite as creamy as other rice puddings I have made, but the complex flavour combination more than made up for this fact. For some reason, I also couldn’t find any chopped pistachios and gave up looking so I used slivered almonds but the next time I make this I will use pistachios. Not only do they add a touch of colour, they are found more commonly in Middle Eastern desserts than almonds, I’d say.
Would I make this again? Definitely but not just for anybody. This is probably a dessert best savoured only by myself because I can’t think of too many people who not only like rice pudding, but also the combination of rosewater, cinnamon, and pistachios. If you’re one of those rare people like myself, let me know and we’ll make a batch and sigh contentedly after each spoonful.
Grade: Five stars out of five. This recipe is inspired and simply beautiful to look at.