Venezuelan Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)
Rice pudding — arroz con leche — is a classic South American dessert that has its origins in Spain and came to us from the colony time. But every country has it owns version of this classic. Today, I’ll show you a truly Venezuelan arroz con leche.
For me, food is way much more than a pretty picture an a brief moment of tasting yummy stuff. For me, food is a story of love. Really, love? — that sound like a cheesy soap opera intro — Absolutely yes, because my grandma always taught me that the best way to show love for someone it was to cook for them.
In my house, if you were sick, the answer was chicken soup. You had a cold? the answer was a hot chocolate. Were you celebrating an important moment in your life? the answer was a party full of tequeños. Were you feeling lazy and unmotivated? the answer was a mountain of pancakes to cheer up your breakfast.
That was my home. That way my grandma taught us to share every moment. Eating something scrumptious and thanking God for those moments with our loved ones.
Now my whole family is all over the globe: Chile, Argentina, Portugal, Ecuador, etc. But the recipes are always with us. The love is there, intact, in every arepa bite!
So… going back to the recipe for a Venezuelan rice pudding.
This recipe is super easy and it doesn’t require tons of exotic ingredients. Just rice, milk, condensed milk and a few spices (cloves, cinnamon and Jamaican pepper).
In Venezuela, we are used to making rice pudding in “Semana Santa”, which would be easter in the USA. This is like a holiday dessert.
The spices are really important for the arroz con leche distinctive flavor and I wouldn’t advise to change them because the essence of the “Arroz con leche” will be lost.
Fun and the brief story about the spice. I had almost one year since I ate the last rice pudding from my home in Venezuela and I was desperate to get the right spices. The principal spice is the “guayabita” — that’s how we call it in Venezuela. It means small guava—and I thought that it would be impossible to find. But my big surprise was that in the rest of the world the “guayabita” is known as Jamaican pepper and is quite popular. So all this month I thought that they looked similar but definitely weren’t the same thing. Another episode of multicultural misunderstanding.
Well, this is the perfect example of how to keep connected with your root even when you are on the other side of the globe. Again, the magic of the food.
- 1 liter whole milk
- 1 cup rice
- 400 gr condensed milk 1 can
- 3 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp cloves
- 1 tbsp Jamaican pepper guayabita
- Cinnamon powder
Heat the milk over medium heat and add the cinnamon stick, the Jamaican pepper, and the cloves.
When the milk starts to boil, add the rice and cook over low heat for 30 - 40 minutes. (note 1)
When the mix is thick enough add the condensed milk and cook for another 10 minutes over low heat.
Remove the rice pudding from the stove when there is still enough liquid but the rice is completely soggy. (note 2)
Serve with some cinnamon powder on top.
- Stir every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon to avoid burned rice at the bottom.
- The rice will keep cooking even out of the stove. For that reason it’s necessary to leave some liquid so the result won’t be dry.