--- Watch A Middle East Feast 8.00pm Thursdays on SBS Food (see the breakfast episode on July 22), or stream it free via SBS On Demand. For recipes, articles and more head to the program page here. ---
"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.
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.
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.
A tart-sweet pomegranate syrup drizzled over the top is the perfect partner for a milky rice pudding flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla and rosewater.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
The crispy rice makes this breakfast bowl extra delicious – I find my large cast iron frying pan gives me the best result.
This recipe borrows a bit from several Asian cuisines. It is not faithful to any one country, but is delightful all the same.
‘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
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.