Sitto’s Stovetop Rice Pudding, Riz B’Halib

Published January 27, 2018

One of my very favorite sweets, since early childhood, is Sitto’s Stovetop Rice Pudding, her Riz B’Halib. It was the humblest of puddings, made in kitchens all over the Middle East, with each family loving their own version of it. It is simply, milk, sugar and rice! Sitto would make hers on the stovetop, simmering it for about an hour and stirring it frequently. That always gave me a chance to talk to her as I sat at her kitchen table. Was it the memory of those talks or the delicious pudding to follow? I think it was both!

Years later, when I had my own family, it was never in the refrigerator very long, because it also became their favorite simple and homey sweet! And each time I make it now for my grandchildren, I go back in time to when Sitto put a smile on my face as I peeked into her refrigerator and saw this!

Today, so many years later, I can get a little more “sophisticated” with this homey pudding by infusing it while it cooks with a cinnamon stick, a scraped vanilla bean or even some crushed cardamom seeds. I sometimes like adding a tablespoon of Orange Blossom or Rose Water to the hot pudding after taking it off the heat. These infused flavors allow the pudding to get more complex and even exotic enough for a Chef’s approval! Delight your family and guests at your next dinner party by adding some crushed pistachio nuts or golden raisins on top. It gives it some pizzaz and will make it traditionally Syrian! Try Sitto’s Stovetop Rice Pudding on page 145 of Sitto’s Kitchen II Cookbook. You’ll find that you too can be “chef-for-a-day” in your own kitchen!