Here is a traditional (and ancient) Middle-Eastern pudding that can be prepared very easily with ingredients from any mainstream supermarket. It is named after the ninth century Caliph Ma’moun (revered by some and loathed by others). It is so simple to make, yet it is a celebratory dessert. It is also prepared for a special breakfast and garnished with toasted nuts or melted white cheese or whipped cream.
INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water or other flavoring such as vanilla
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or oil
- 1 cup cream of wheat (for a coarser texture) or semolina flour
- Garnish: pistachios, chopped fine. Pine nuts, toasted or panfried till golden-brown. Almonds, toasted.
1. Place the water and sugar in a saucepan; bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer for a few minutes. Add the orange blossom water and set aside.
2. Melt the butter over medium heat and add the semolina or cream of wheat; stir constantly until the mixture is light brown and a toasted fragrance comes-up. Gradually add the syrup, stirring, until the mixture thickens (which takes just minutes). Transfer to a bowl or several ramequins. Garnish with the nuts and serve immediately.
NOTE: Other flavorings include saffron, which can be diluted in a few tablespoons of water and added to the semolina. Some people like to add shredded cheese to this pudding as it cooks, melting the cheese.