Festive Rice Pudding


        1 1/1 cups pounded rice
        8 cups water
        2 1/2 cups sugar
        1 Tbsp. caraway seed
        1 Tbsp. anise seed
        1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
When a boy is born in Lebanon this ceremonial pudding is served to all the family's friends and relatives. This is also served for girls - sometimes ! The recipe calls for pounded rice which can be purchased in grocery specialty shops but most Lebanese prefer to prepare their own.

Pound rice in a mortar until fine and powdery. Pound spices separately. Mix rice with two cups water. Add sugar, caraway and anise. Add it to the remaining six cups of water, which should be boiling. Add ginger. Boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture coats the spoon. About an hour of cooking, at least, is required. Pour into individual serving dishes. Decorate with blanched almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and coconut. Makes about 15 portions.

(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat's, Beirut 1959)