My grandma is without a doubt one of the best cooks I know but my Papoo has his own repertoire of delicious go-to foods. He bakes the shortbread, blends the milkshakes, makes the freshest apple sauce, and taught me the secret to perfect sutlach.
Rice pudding can be found in many different varieties and cultures but this super easy, creamy sutlach has a soft spot in my heart because my family has been making it for generations. Sutlach (pronounced sout-latch) is essentially like any other rice pudding except that it is made with rice flour rather than full grains of rice. This allows it to become extremely smooth and pudding-like.
The origin of sutlach is Middle Eastern, and it is a popular dish among those who come from that region. Great-grandparents on both of my parents’ sides came from Rhodes and used a Turkish recipe that gives the sutlach a vanilla and cinnamon flavor that my family still makes today. Other sutlach recipes call for rose water or cardamom, like the one found in Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem cookbook.
There are only four ingredients in the Menashe sutlach, but you must keep the milk, rice flour, and sugar moving so that the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. The secret: patience. You must constantly stir. I find that helps to stir in a figure eight stir motion so everything gets rotated around evenly.
Menashe Family Sutlach Recipe
1 quart of 2% milk
½ cup rice flour
½ cup sugar
dash of vanilla
Combine the milk, rice flour, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir with a whisk or spoon until mixture gets thick in consistency but does not come to a boil. Add a teaspoon or so of vanilla and continue stirring. Remove from heat and ladle portions into shallow bowls. Let cool then sprinkle cinnamon on top of each serving. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
For me, the hardest part of this entire process is waiting for the sutlach to cool, but again, patience is the key here. And even though sutlach is traditionally eaten as a dessert or holiday food, I think it makes an excellent addition to a light breakfast.