SUTLAC (Turkish rosewater rice pudding, for six)
¾ cup Italian short-grain or risotto rice
1-1/2 cups water
5 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons rose water
¼ teaspoon pulverized gum mastic or 3 drops vanilla essence
4 egg yolks
for the caramel topping, 4 tablespoons superfine sugar (optional)
1. Put the rice into a large pan with the water. Bring it to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Add the milk and simmer on very low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the rice is very soft but there is still quite a bit of liquid left. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
2. Put in the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Add the rose water, turn off the heat, and sprinkle on the gum mastic, stirring vigorously. If you are using vanilla essence, put it in at the same time as the sugar.
3. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl, then beat in a ladleful of the simmering pudding. Add this mixture to the pan, stirring constantly for a few moments only, until the liquid thickens a little (it becomes creamy), but do not let it boil or the yolks will curdle. Pour the pudding into a serving dish – use a heatproof one if you are making the caramel topping – let it cool, and then refrigerate, covered in plastic wrap.
4. If you are going to make the caramel topping, the pudding must be chilled before you add the sugar. Sprinkle the top with the 4 tablespoons sugar and put under a preheated broiler. The sugar will bubble and gradually turn a dark caramel. If it is too near the broiler, burnt spots will appear. If that happens, you can just lift them off when the caramel has cooled and hardened. Refrigerate before serving.
from Claudia Roden, Arabesque