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Turkish Burnt Rice Pudding
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Q. I’m not sure if you can help me but I am praying you can. My father-in-law is Turkish and all he can talk about is how good his mom’s rice pudding was. She is now in heaven so I can't ask her how to make it and I have looked all over and I can't find it. Its called Sutlac and its a Turkish rice pudding. If you can help me it would mean the world to me.

A. Great, as long as there’s no pressure. We were delighted and a little surprised to find four meaningful Turkish cookbooks on our shelves, and one of them — Classic Turkish Cooking (Canada, UK) came through with a recipe for Firinda (burnt) Sütlaç. If your father-in-law’s mother’s sütlaç wasn’t firinda, we’re all in trouble.

The recipe is pretty simple: Take a half-pound of short-grain or "pudding" rice and soak it for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse it. Put the rice in a pan, cover it with water, and cook, uncovered, until almost all the water has been absorbed. Stir in 4 cups milk and simmer gently until the mixture thickens. Add 1 lb of sugar, and cook it gently for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The book says it should be thicker than a pouring consistency, but not solid. Stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and pour the mixture into an oven-proof dish. Brown the top under the broiler. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Ghillie Basan, the book’s author, says sütlaç was the classic rice pudding from the Ottoman Palace kitchens, and is often flavored with rose water and chilled, or, as in this recipe, browned or burnt on top. In either case it should be moist and creamy.

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