Rice pudding with orange curd topping

Layered orange rice pudding

So many of you have kindly written to me asking how I was coping in  Ras Al Khaima, wondering about my new life here. I’ve been meaning to write a long post about this for months! but something always comes up! So I have decided to break it up into a series of posts. I will tell you a little bit about the great move, life in the UAE and how I’m coping with the whole idea of being an expat. Do stay tuned 🙂

If you are here for the recipe, scroll to the end of the post, you will find the English and Arabic versions

rice pudding with orange curd

When we moved to the UAE last June, I expected things to settle down after a few months but it turns out that moving a family to a new country is a bigger adventure than what I had anticipated. Despite all the preparations and all the research that I had done before moving to the UAE there were things that I could not have possibly prepared for!

The humidity!!

Having lived in Amman for most of my life, humidity was something I have never had to deal with! Moving to a place where the humidity can go up to 90% making the air hard to breathe, and transforming you into a sticky mess if you walk outside in the summer for any amount of time longer than 3 minutes was not something I was prepared for.

The heat!!

It is one thing to hear the number 45 C (113 F) on the weather forecast but to live it is a completely different experience!

 You name the AC simply because it becomes a member of the family! you can’t live without it!

You cling to the hope that the weather will cool down but temperatures in the late 20s C is as low as it is going to get!  There is no such thing as winter here. Only a brutal summer for 8 months and milder summer for 4 months!

The desert

Getting used to the idea of the endless desert that surrounds you from every direction was not easy! In fact it is still not easy.Sure the cities in the UAE are vast and modern, with buildings that are nothing short of architectural miracles but the minute you leave the city, you are greeted by endless dunes of sand. Sure there are a few trees here and there and the occasional camel or two but for the most part, it is just dune after dune of reddish orange sand.

I have friends who were born and raised in the UAE and when I complained  about the desert they were surprised! They told me that with time you will learn to love it and see the beauty in it. It was a notion I found outlandish especially after losing our way a couple of time in the desert at night on our way back from Dubai to Ras Al Khaima. Even with GPS and your mobile phone at your side and an 8 lane highway, the desert can be unnerving especially at night.

That being said, I have to admit that slowly, ever so slowly I have begun to see a certain beauty in the desert. There is the enchanting clear starry sky that you can never see in the city and a certain serenity in the vast, loneliness of the dessert, it somehow makes you feel humble and vulnerable and pushes you on a journey inward.

Do I love the desert? No, but I don’t hate it any more

I know I started with the negatives but the glass is definitely not empty.There is so much that I am grateful for here. So much that I will miss dearly when we go back home

Waking up every morning to see the sun rise over the mountains painting the creek water with shades of gold and red takes my breath away every single morning. It is a true blessing to start your day with a dose of  beauty  .

Sunrise in RAK

living across the street from a jogging trail that overlooks the creek is another blessing, I drop the kids off at school and go for a long walk. I try to focus on improving my speed but I keep being distracted by all the beautiful birds that seem to love the seaside as much as I do. I end up chasing them with my camera but I am rarely successful in capturing their beauty in a picture. Here are some pictures of the precious few that I have managed to capture

Birds in Ras al khaima

Birds in Ras Al Khaima UAE

RAK birds

Seagull

These little birds in the next picture have the habit of walking everywhere! They even cross the street walking! They can fly perfectly fine but they love to walk!and I love to watch them! They also sing beautiful melodies in the evening

RAK birds crossing the street!!

Living 10 minutes away from the sea is a joy you can only fully appreciate if you have lived a lifetime in the mountains .If it was up to me, I would be there every  day to watch the sun set. The breathtaking colors are enchanting to say the least and the sound of the waves as they gently crash onto the shore is unbelievably calming, somehow it manages to quiet all the noise in my head for a precious few minutes.

RAK Sunset

I will end this part with one last picture of the ships I usually see in the creek and I will share more about this whole adventure in my upcoming posts.

Ras al khaima

And now, let’s get down to buisness 🙂

For the month of March, our Arabic flavor host Suha invited us to try a traditional Syrian recipe from her home town “Aleppo”. Padded rice pudding is the exact translation of the name رز مبطن, the padding is a layer of orange curd used to top the rice pudding. The addition of the curd provides a beautiful contrast in color and flavor, transforming the humble rice pudding into an elegant dessert.

Simply oranges!

Variations of this idea are popular all over the Levant, a layer of rice pudding or mohalabia is topped with a fruit based curd or pudding. The toppings range from Carob, grape, to kamar al deen. Each providing a unique color and taste. The carob variety is called red and white pudding in Palestine, in reference to the beautiful color contrast between the layers.

That being said, you don’t have to limit yourself to the traditional varieties, you can try this recipe using your favorite fruit juice, making it all your own.

Rice pudding with orange  curd layer

Rice pudding with orange curd topping

Ingredients

For the rice pudding layer

One and a half-liters milk

3/4 cup short grain rice

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 mastic crystals (optional)

1 tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)

For the orange pudding layer

5 cups orange juice

7 tablespoons corn starch

3/4 cup sugar

Rice pudding with orange curd topping

Method:
Prepare the rice milk:

Put the milk in a deep pot and bring to a boil

In the meantime wash the rice and drain it

Note: Do not soak the rice, you only want to wash it to retain as much starch as possible, because the starch in the rice is our thickening agent
When the milk boils, lower the heat and add the rice and water and stir continuously until the rice is cooked through and the milk thickens. This can take up to an hour.The time depends on the type of rice that you used (see notes)

When the rice is cooked and the milk thickens (see notes) through add the sugar, mastic, orange blossom water and vanilla and stir well until the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and pour into your serving dishes . Remember to leave some space for the orange layer

Allow the rice pudding to cool down completely before adding the orange Pudding

Prepare Pudding orange:
Place 4 cups of orange juice in a pot

Dissolve the starch in the remaining one cup and add it to the pot.

Cook over medium heat while continuously stirring until the pudding comes to a boil

lower the heat and cook for 5 more minutes
Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves completely

Take off the heat.

Gently pour the orange pudding over the rice pudding and allow it to cool completely before placing it in the fridge

Notes:

If the rice is cooked through but the milk has not thickened add 1- 2 tablespoon of starch dissolved in 1/2 a cup of water to the pudding, stir on medium heat until the pudding comes back to a boil and thickens

The amount of sugar can be adjusted according to your preference

For the milk layer there are two secret ingredients that set this dessert apart from any other pudding : the mastic and the orange blossom water. Both ingredients are optional but they do elevate this to the next level.

rice pudding with orange curd topping

وصفه شهر مارس من نكهه عربيه كانت من تقديم سهى قمند. سهى اختارت لنا وصفه من حلب و هي الرز المبطن  و هو عباره عن أرز بالحليب فوقه طبقه مهلبيه برتقال. تشتهر بلاد الشام بشكل عام بتنويعات مختلفه لهذه الوصفه. فبدلا من  مهلبيه البرتقال تحضر مهلبيه قمر الدين او العنب او الخروب. في فلسطين تسمى هذه الوصفه عند تحضيرها بالخروب بدل البرتقال  حمره بيضه  في اشاره لالوان طبقتي الخروب و الحليب) ..و هي من الوصفات التراثيه الشهيره هناك

اضافه مهلبيه البرتقال (او العنب او الخروب) تضفي لمسه جماليه على اللون الابيض المحايد كما و ان حموضه البرتقال  تعادل حلاوه الارز بالحليب مع اضفاء نكهه الفواكه المنعشه للطبق

المقادير :

لطبقه الرز بالحليب

لتر و نصف حليب

 (ثلاثه ارباع كوب رز مصري قصير الحبة ( استخدمت صن وايت

نصف كوب ماء

نصف كوب سكر

ملعقه صغيره فانيلا

خمسه فصوص مستكه صغيره

ملعقه كبيره ماء زهر

لطبقه مهلبيه البرتقال

خمسه اكواب عصير برتقال ( سعه الكوب 250 مل ) يفضل العصير الطازج

سبعه ملاعق نشا

ثلاثه ارباع كوب سكر

الطريقة :
أولاً: تحضير الرز بالحليب :

 يوضع الحليب في قدر عميق و يرفع على نار متوسطة حتى يغلي , في هذه الأثناء يغسل الرز و يصفى

ملاحظه: لا ينقع الرز   بل يغسل فقط كي لا نخسر المواد النشوية التي فيه فهي المسؤولة عن القوام المتماسك للوصفه.
بعد أن يغلي الحليب نضيف الرز و الماء و نستمر بالتحريك حتى لا تلتصق حبات الرز ببعضها , نستمر بالتحريك حتى يصبح الرز نصف ناضج

 في هذه المرحلة تخفف النار و يحرك بين الحين و الأخر ( ستلاحظين أن الحليب بدأ يتغير لونه) , استمري على هذا المنوال حتى تنضج حبة الأرز و يتكاثف الحليب و يصبح أسمك ( طبعاً ستقل كميته في القدر )

 يضاف السكر و الفانيليا و يحرك جيداً حتى يذوب السكر , يرفع عن النار و يسكب في أطباق التقديم مع ترك مسافة فارغة لطبقة البرتقال .

 يترك حتى يبرد تماماً قبل إضافة مهلبيه البرتقال

ثانيا : تحضير مهلبية البرتقال :
يصفى عصير البرتقال بمصفاة سلك و يوضع 4 أكواب في قدر عميق .
يذوب النشاء في كوب العصير الباقي و يضاف إلى القدر و يرفع على النار مع التحريك المستمر حتى يغلي المزيج و يتكاثف , خففي النار و اتركيه من 4 إلى 5 دقائق للتأكد من نضج النشاء , أضيفي السكر و حركي جيداً حتى يذوب ثم ارفعيه عن النار .

 تسكب المهلبيه فوق الرز بالحليب البارد تترك حتى تبرد تماماً و يقدم بالهنا و الشفا .

Rice pudding with orange curd

ملاحظات :

أهم مرحلة هي نضج الأرز و تكاثف الحليب , إذا كانت حبة الرز ناضجة مثل الرز المفلفل فهذا يعني أن الرز سيشتد مرة أخرى بعد إضافة السكر أتركي الرز ينضج حتى يذوب بالفم ( استغرق معي طبخ الأرز ساعة على نار هادئة طبعاً المدة تختلف حسب النار تذوقي حبة الأرز و احكمي بنفسك ) .

تختلف نوعية الحليب من بلد إلى آخر , إذا لاحظت أن الرز نضج و لم يصل الحليب للقوام المناسب يمكن تذويب ملعقة

كبيرة من نشاء الذرة بقليل من الماء و إضافتها للمزيج على شكل خيط رفيع مع التحريك المستمر .

 كمية السكر في الوصفة حسب الذوق البعض يستخدم لكل 1 كغ حليب 1 فنجان سكر اختاري ما يناسبك .