Creamy rice embraces nuts, spices and sweet syrups in these breakfast and dessert favourites.
21 Jul 2021 - 10:53 AM  UPDATED 4 Nov 2021 - 10:53 AM

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"I think everyone will be really happy," says Adam Liaw in The Cook Up as he puts the finishing touches on his riz bi haleeb - a Middle Eastern rice pudding flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon, and served with strawberries in arak syrup.

It's a phrase that could be equally applied to all of the recipes below: a collection of our favourite Middle Eastern-influenced rice puddings, some vibrant, some subtle but all bringing with them a lovely measure of 'make-everyone-happy'. Grab a spoon and dig in. 

Riz bi haleeb (rice pudding)

Strawberries in an arak syrup (or use any other anise-flavoured spirit) add vibrant colour to Shane Delia's thick, creamy milk and rice pudding. 

Creamy Middle Eastern rice bowl

We love an equally good breakfast served when just made, or the next day, and this recipe is all that. Rice flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla and honey (or maple syrup for a vegan version) is topped with pistachios, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses.

Creamy Middle Eastern rice bowl

Cinnamon and rosewater rice pudding with pomegranate syrup

A tart-sweet pomegranate syrup drizzled over the top is the perfect partner for a milky rice pudding flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla and rosewater.

Spiced rice pudding

Jasmin Rose Ibrahim's recipe is made with ground rice, creating a silky, rich dessert, flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon, caraway, anise and fresh ginger. You can eat it warm, or make ahead and serve chilled. 

Spiced rice pudding

Cinnamon rice pudding with cherry compote and pistachios

Yotam Ottolenghi's Turkish recipe for rice pudding is pretty and full of flavour, and although it calls for fresh cherries, you could easily serve the pudding with a compote of whatever fruit is in season.

Persimmon and walnut rice pudding

When persimmons are in season, they make a wonderful combination with rice pudding and walnuts. And when they aren't? This pudding - made even richer with a little condensed milk stirred in just before serving! - is lovely with any fruit, nuts or sweetener you like to add. 

Spiced rice pudding (meghli)

Megli is a traditional Lebanese dessert often cooked to celebrate the birth of a baby, or at Christmas. The broken rice used in this recipe gives the pudding a porridge-like texture. 

More rice to dig into
Rice pudding (arroz con leche) with dulce de leche

‘Arroz con leche’ is a popular children’s treat in Argentina and traditionally it might have been something waiting for you when you arrived home from school. It’s a cheap meal to prepare and like many Argentine dishes it can feed many.

Ginger & turmeric rice with crispy egg

The crispy rice makes this breakfast bowl extra delicious – I find my large cast iron frying pan gives me the best result.

Black rice breakfast with tropical fruit

This recipe borrows a bit from several Asian cuisines. It is not faithful to any one country, but is delightful all the same. 


Chicken rice bowl (soboro don)

‘Don’ is short for donburi, which is a Japanese rice bowl, and soboro means ‘crumbled meat’. This minced chicken cooked in a sweet-salty sauce with vegetables and spring onions is a quick midweek meal. - Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat

Vegetarian rice dish (prasorizo)

Leeks are a member of the lily family and share the Allium genus with garlic and various onions. In ancient Greece, there were leek-growing competitions and the largest ones were offered to the gods. Greeks have added them to many recipes, including this vegetarian rice dish.