Rice pudding with geranium leaves (Muazzabeh)

July 22, 2010  •  Category:



Geraniums are very popular in Lebanon; even the most modest home will adorn its doorsteps or balcony with a pot filled with these cheerful flowers; as a kid, I would  secretly pluck  the petals of our potted geraniums with a girlfriend: the idea was to blot  them onto  our 10-year-old lips hoping to wear that bright pink hue.

This rice pudding however  is flavored with a type of geranium that is extremely fragrant, but has almost no  flowers; a few  leaves are dropped in the milk while it is heated; then the  pudding is sweetened with some grape molasses, which was the main sweetener in Lebanon before refined white sugar became available; this creamy mixture  delivers a faint butterscotch flavor with the scents of rose, orange blossom and geranium added to the mix.


• 1 cup of round rice, such as Italian arborio or sushi or Turkish or Egyptian
• 2 1/2 cups of milk
• 2 large tablespoons of cornstarch (heaping)
• 1/2 cup of white sugar
• 3 or 4 tablespoons of grape molasses or apple molasses or date molasses
• 2 or 3 leaves of fragrant geranium, (can substitute a cinnamon stick)
• 1 teaspoon of rose water or rose syrup
• 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water

1. Place the rice in a heavy-bottomed pot and add enough water to cover the rice and extend up by one inch; simmer the rice till it is almost cooked or at least al dente and the water is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally.
2. Pour 2 cups of the milk with the geranium leaves (if using) in a pan and scald the milk, adding the sugar, stirring a bit to dissolve the sugar; (heat till small bubbles form on the edge of the pot).
3. Add the milk (discarding the leaves) to the rice and cook, stirring constantly on low heat until the rice and milk start to form a creamy mass; dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and add to the rice mixture; keep stirring; the rice pudding should thicken within minutes; add the molasses and stir some more.
4. Add the rose water and orange blossom water and mix; remove the pudding from the heat, either dividing into individual serving bowls or one large bowl; taste with a spoon to adjust the seasoning.
5. Cool on the counter and then refrigerate.
6. Serve cold or at room temperature.
NOTE: Can decorate the rice pudding with candied walnuts.
Can sweeten the rice pudding strictly with molasses, adding more as needed.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Ramzi  The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon, Arabic edition. (adapted)


38 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. melrose says:

    I never knew that one can eat geranium:), that is just a flower around here, not a spice. Thanks for the info!
    And I like Milchreis, Rice pudding, sutlijas, rizu na mlijeku, call it what ever, it is great cool from the fridge with cinnamon and sugar!

  2. Amber @Almost Vegan says:

    This looks simply dreamy. I’m a huge fan of rice pudding.

  3. Rosa says:

    the same goes for geraniums here in Switzerland! It is nearly our national plant… A great way of flavoring rice puddings.



  4. SYLVIA says:

    This rice pudding looks very rustic and totally different, I think it’s the creamy aspect of the pudding that everybody loves. I never thought that you can cook with geraniums, now I know, we have large pots of this deep green fragrant planters on our deck, I love how you pass by it, and touch, or tear their leaves and it releases it’s scent. I thank you Joumana, for today’s informative tip.

  5. Suman singh says:

    this is great…I get know alot by coming to your site..even we make kheer which is something similar to rice pudding but yours recipe is different than ours..we use cardamom powder and sugar whereas your recipe ask for those molasses and that fragnant leaves..must try out this way…thanks for sharing!

  6. Lentil Breakdown says:

    I love geraniums and rice pudding, but never paired them up before. One day I will do a post of my grandmother’s Jewish rice pudding that is delicious. I was in an ethnic market the other (Latin but owned by a Persian) and they had pomegranate molasses on sale so I bought a bottle, thinking you had lots of great recipes to guide me. This rice pudding looks fabulous and I love the truck pic.

  7. sippitysup says:

    I think I have that style geranium in my yard. It’s the “true geranium” variety, right? Not the more common pelargonium type. GREG

  8. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    Fabulous pudding and fascinating info on the sweetener situation. Love this!

  9. Katerina says:

    We also make rice puddings. You flavor it with geranium, very unusual. We put cinnamon. It must taste great.

  10. Carrie says:

    I adore rose geranium so I searched for ages until I found a potted one for sale at a local nursery. No easy task in Ohio! I have used it with blackberries (toss the berries with a little sugar and a crumpled rose geranium leaf, allow to sit for a while, and serve with a drizzle of heavy cream). I used them to make a simple syrup for a raspberry sorbet, with raspberries I picked at a local farm. Now I have a lovely new recipe to try! Thanks for sharing – it looks beautiful.

  11. TS of eatingclub says:

    Oh wow, I never knew geraniums could be used in cooking! I actually have no idea what the fragrance of the leaves is like.

  12. Jean says:

    I love rice pudding–grew up eating it. However, I like the refined quality of yours with the addition of the orange blossom water, rose water and the geranium leaves. I love rice pudding, cold or hot!

  13. kim says:

    Wow. It looks so delicious. I think I like it cold and eaten under the shade. 🙂

  14. Kerstin says:

    What a delicious summer treat – I’ve never cooked with rose, orange blossom or geranium flavors but it just sounds so lovely.

  15. Sushma Mallya says:

    Very lovely pic,and yummy and simple pudding as well

  16. Cherine says:

    Your rice pudding looks fantastic and creamy!! Love the addition of the molasses!

  17. Pauline says:

    I love all sorts of rice pudding. I’ll look for scented geraniums at the garden centre and try this recipe with one of my home-made plant milks.

  18. virginie says:

    hummmm j’aime beaucoup ce dessert qu’est le riz au lait !!!

    pour la pâte feuilletée, pourquoi pas celle aux petits suisse si tu en trouves facilement ????

    bon vendredi gourmand

  19. grace says:

    i have yet to experiment in cooking with flowers, but i find this batch of rice pudding very appealing! interesting work, joumana. 🙂

  20. PJ says:

    We had a lot of geranium plants when I was a kid.Never knew we could use it for cooking!!!This looks similar to our Payasam / Kheer!!Very creamy 🙂

  21. Barbara says:

    Every home had geraniums when I lived up north. They are tough to grow in Florida, possible, but they don’t last in our sun.
    We love rice pudding around here….the idea of using fruited molasses is interesting, Joumana. And perhaps some rose water?

  22. yasmeen says:

    Yum pudding,love the molasses and the geraniums are such a fragrant addition 😀

  23. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    I adore rice pudding which is not usually a favorite for most. I have no idea where i would find such a geranium though here but it sounds intriguing. very creative.

  24. Jen_from_NJ says:

    I am still in search of edible geraniums. Your pudding looks just delicious.

  25. Devaki says:

    Dear Joumana – This is wonderful – germanium leaves? I never would have guessed and what a lovely way to flavor rice pudding. As you know ‘kheer’ or ‘payesh’ rules in India and it was always made for birthdays and festivals – a good omen.

    I also love the rose water and orange blossom flower water. I have never used the two in combination though I always use rose water as often as I can. I am loving the pics from Beirut.

    Hugs, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  26. elra says:

    Delicious rice pudding, love the photos Joumana, they are pretty 🙂

  27. Carrie says:

    Follow up:

    I just made this and it is FABULOUS! I did have to make a little substitution. I used pomegranate molasses because it was what I had on hand (and given my location, finding the proper molasses would involve a long drive and some searching). I also chose to use almond milk, because I like it and cow’s milk doesn’t like me. Anyway, it is lovely, fragrant, has a wonderful texture (silky and creamy, yet bumpy from the rice), and a perfect sweetness which is balanced by the molasses. If you can find rose geranium leaves, you have to try this.

    Can’t wait to have a cold bowl of this, after a fatoush salad, at our regular Friday evening picnic in the park. I love this blog.

  28. Katie @Cozydelicious says:

    I love rice pudding, my grandmother often made it. But here your flavors seem so wonderfully sophisticated – exostic to me. I can’t wait to make this and transform something so normal into an amazing treat!

  29. Joanne says:

    Rice pudding is one of my favorite desserts but you really take it to a new level with all of these added flavors and spices!

  30. peter says:

    I would be very interested to taste the rice pudding with geraniums.

  31. gloria says:

    Dear Joumana I cannot enter to the “fig balls” so I comment here. I really love figs, anthese balls look geogeous, I love this recipe, huggs
    Absolutely beauty pics in this post and the fig post. xxx

  32. Scented Leaf says:

    In my native country people use scented pelargonium leaves in rice-pudding, too.
    I love to cook with scented pelargoniums not only jellies and sweet cookies. I’ve blogged about this recently and I continue to search new recipes.

  33. A Canadian Foodie says:

    Gorgeous shots. I love rice and tapioca puddings, Was going to teach my Punjabi students how to make this last year, and they all knew as they eat it often and it is a predominant dish in their culture, too!

  34. Yervant says:

    Not all the geraniums can be used. It’s this scented or Arabic geranium that has a nice flavorful aroma . What is it called in Lebanese Arabic?

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