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Persian Rose Pudding

This is another delicious rice pudding, eaten by the Jews of Teheran on Shavuot, which they also call the Festival of Roses. Dried rosebuds and rosewater, which are used throughout the Middle East and North Africa, are sold in Middle Eastern groceries. Rosewater syrup is available and is delicious with this pudding.

ingredients

serves 6 to 8
6 cups water
2 cups long-grain or medium-grain rice
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups chopped pitted dates
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons rosewater
dash of ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
dried or fresh rosebuds for garnish

method

1. Place the water in a saucepan and add the rice. Bring to a boil over high heat, and when the rice starts to "dance," reduce heat and cover pan. Cook 15 minutes, or until rice is tender.

2. Drain off any remaining water and let cool for a few minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a deep 2-quart glass baking dish.

4. Beat the eggs until foamy. Add the milk, dates, sugar, rosewater, and cinnamon. Pour over the rice and blend well.

5. Transfer mixture to the prepared dish, then cut the butter into small pieces and dot over the rice.

6. Bake pudding for 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

7. Remove pudding from the oven and let cool. Unmold onto a serving platter and decorate with the rosebuds.

8. Chill until ready to serve, and serve with rosewater syrup or cream.

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