Comfort Cooking Abroad

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Leftover Rice Pudding

Rice pudding made with leftover rice and coconut milk.

Rice pudding made with leftover rice and coconut milk.

I recently had a lot of leftover rice from Chinese takeaway. Everything but the rice had been eaten and I didn’t want to throw out 2 cups of rice. Usually when I make rice pudding, I cook the rice in a thick custard, but this time I decided to make something closer to what I used to have at breakfast in KSA. I even had real cinnamon and cardamom pods to add, which is what you see in the lower left and top center of the pot.

Ingredients for 8 servings

2 cups leftover rice

1 12 oz can coconut milk

1 1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 egg

cinnamon and cardamom to taste – optional

This recipe couldn’t be any easier. Put the leftover rice in a pot and break it up a little. combine the coconut milk, milk, sugar, salt and egg in a bowl and add it to the rice. Add cinnamon and cardamom if you like. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Pudding mixture before cooking.

Pudding mixture before cooking.

The rice will soften and the liquid will thicken slightly. Don’t expect a custard-like pudding when you finish. This Arabic style rice pudding is much thinner. Try topping it with crushed pistachios for a bit of crunch.

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Rice Pilaf

Simple rice pilaf.

Simple rice pilaf.

Here’s a very basic but flavorful rice pilaf. Rice is easily the most common grain eaten around the world. Plain rice day after day with every meal gets a bit boring. A pilaf gives you some variety and a lot of flavor with very little work. So what is rice pilaf? It’s simply a cooking method, that most likely originated in Iran, in which the rice gets sautéed in some type of fat and then boiled in a seasoned broth. So really all you have to do is trade water for your favorite broth or stock and add one extra cooking step that takes about two minutes. Easy, right?

Ingredients for 4 servings

1 tbsp butter or oil

2 cups rice

2 cups vegetable stock

Your favorite seasonings to taste

Start by melting the butter or heating the oil on high heat in the pot of your rice cooker and then add the rice. Stirring occasionally, cook the rice until it takes on a light golden color. This step should only take two or three minutes on high heat, so watch your rice closely to avoid burning.

Sauteed rice.

Sauteed rice.

Now add your vegetable stock and seasonings. I used garlic and onion powder. You could also add 1 clove of crushed garlic and half a diced onion when you sauté the rice to get a similar flavor. You could also try turmeric, curry powder, jerk seasoning or just the basic salt and pepper. Close the lid of your rice cooker and wait for the machine to click over to warm.

You could try adding peas and carrots with the stock or any other mix of vegetables or pre-cooked meat for a heartier rice dish that could be a meal on its own. The basic recipe is so easy but impactful that I like to pair it with main dishes that can be rather time consuming. Let me know what variations you come up with!

Rice pilaf served with beef wellington.

Rice pilaf served with beef wellington.

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