I love all kinds of rice puddings and similar desserts. Luckily, it seems like almost every country has their variety of rice puddings, so there is always something different to explore. Among my favorite rice puddings are the Danish Ris a la Mande and Arroz con Leche. Both of these puddings I make regularly during wintertime.
Now that spring is finally here, I opt for a lighter version – maybe not lighter in terms of ingredients and calories, but lighter and more delicate in flavor than my winter favorites – Sheer Berenj, a Persian Rice pudding.
When Marjan first made Sheer Berenj (the literal translations is milk rice) for me, I was in heaven! This dessert is similar to Shol-e-zard, yet the taste is unique due to the use of cardamom complimented with slivered raw pistachios and cranberries. I prefer Sheer Berenj to Shol-ezard as the texture is creamier (not surprising if you look at the list of ingredients).
INGREDIENTS (for 6-8 servings)
1 cup rice
5 cups cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cream (cream can be omitted and one additional cup of milk used instead)
5 cups milk
1 tablespoon rosewater
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup slivered raw pistachios
¼ cup cranberries
½ cup sugar (optional)
½ cup honey (optional)
1. Bring to boil using medium heat, in a large stew pot, rice, water and salt-constantly stirring to prevent settling of the starch and boiling over of the rice. Reduce the heat to low, thoroughly cook the rice until grains appear mashed resembling over cooked oatmeal. This process will take 2 hours. Add cold water to the mixture if the water evaporates leaving a thick, heavy mix. The desired consistency is similar to runny oatmeal mix. If the rice or starch should settle to the bottom of the pot, do not stir from the bottom. The rice mixture should be white, cloudy, mashed and runny in appearance.
2. Once the rice is cooked, add cream, milk, sugar (if you desire) and cardamom. Allow to simmer for another thirty minutes, constantly stirring to prevent the milk from boiling over or settling. If the consistency appears too thick, like mashed potatoes, more milk may be added to produce a liquefied mix.
3. Add rosewater and pistachios. Remove from heat and allow rice mix to cool for fifteen minutes.
4. In a deep decorative bowl, or individual bowls, pour the rice mixture and allow cooling completely.
5. Decorate the top of the rice mix with slivered pistachios and cranberries.
6. If sugar was not incorporated, at serving, honey may be drizzled on top which will add natural sweetness and a dazzling presentation.
Sometimes, when I know the whole bowl won’t be eaten, I prepare a smaller bowl (or individual ones) for dessert and pour the rest of the Sheer Berenj into small glass jars, so we can take a great dessert to work the next day. You can keep the jars in the fridge for a couple of days, which is also great if you want to have some sweet snacks handy for your children, without all the artificial stabilizers and additives that come with the stuff you buy in the stores. Enjoy!
... and keep in mind, I am always looking for new rice pudding recipes. If you got a good one, let me know!