From Beirut to London in 100 Dishes

Moughli — Ground Rice Pudding with Cinnamon and Caraway

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 Back to cooking…  I have already talked in an earlier post about how I developed a seriously sweet tooth as a child, aided and abetted by the treats my father would take me on when we went downtown.   How I would stand with him as I guzzled down my little pudding with coconut shavings and nuts.  This is what I was talking about — moughli.

It was, I think, the first pudding recipe I got just right.  I didn’t really have to think about it.  My mother told me exactly what to do after the birth of my brother.  He was my parent’s one and only male child.  He was also born eleven years after me.  So, you can imagine how big a deal that was in an Arab household.  It needed to be celebrated accordingly — and we had lots of guests coming by.

Moughli is traditionally the pudding you make when a baby is born — even more so in this case.  So, I would be asked to make one batch after another.  Following my mother’s instructions, I would get all the ingredients together.  I needed a chair to reach the hob where I would then sit for an hour as I stared at the moughli and stirred it every so often.  When it was ready, I would pour it into small cups to let it cool down.  But I would also try it while it was still hot — without coconut or nuts, it didn’t matter.  It was still delicious.

The older generation would make a huge amount — a thousand cups or so.  My grandmother made so much, she had to store it under the bed.  That was the coolest place.

Now, I don’t wait for a child to be born to make some moughli.  Any time I want a strong, sweet hit of Lebanon,  I settle into something like a trance — and an hour later, I have a row of the little puddings in glass.

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Ingredients

300g of ground rice 

150g of granulated sugar

1 small spoon of ground caraway

11/2 large spoons of cinnamon

14 glasses of water

100g of coconut desiccated

100g of pine kernels soaked in water for an hour

100g of almonds soaked in water for an hour

100g of walnut soaked in water for an hour

100g pistachio nuts soaked in water for an hour

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  • Put the rice, sugar, caraway and cinnamon in a big non stick pan and mix well
  • Add water and stir well, then put the pan on the hob at a medium temperature and keep stirring until the rice starts to simmer
  • Reduce temperature to minimum, cover the pan and leave to cook for an hour
  • You need to stir the moughli every 10 minutes
  • Remove the pan from the heat and pour into small bowls and leave  to cool down
  • Garnish with coconut, pine nuts, almonds, walnut and pistachio nuts
  • Serve chilled

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