Rose-Infused Turkish Rice Pudding (Sütlaç)

August  6, 2017
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

The first time I invited friends over for an ambitious and authentic Turkish dinner is kind of a haze; I set my roommate’s terribly tacky potholders on fire (accidentally, but to minimal regret), made a hummus that was far too tahini-rich, and had to use a knife instead of a corkscrew. The single most successful dish I made was also ostensibly the one that took the longest to make, and was especially challenging on my short attention span.

Note: Before you inadvertently turn a batch of pudding into a cosmetic masterpiece, pay attention to where you’re getting your rosewater from. It’s become increasingly trendy to use rosewater toners (the Whole Foods beauty aisle is full of them), but those are often mixed with witch hazel, or are not FDA approved. I went to an Armenian grocery store to pick up a glass bottle that was specifically marked for baking and cooking. You’ll likely have luck at many Middle Eastern grocery stores, as rose flavoring is very common in deserts from this region.

If you don’t have short grain rice, regular jasmine will work in a pinch, but it does adversely impact the texture and cook time. This recipe doesn’t have a ton of ingredients, but it does require constant vigilance with a wooden spoon—otherwise, you’ll risk the mixture clumping up at various stages, instead of turning into a smooth pudding. I used a 4.5 quart Le Creuset dutch oven, which also meant less risk of my rice sticking to the bottom. —Oset Babur

What You'll Need
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 7 tablespoons uncooked short-grain rice
  • 1 quart milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons rosewater
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  1. Start by bringing water to a boil in a smaller saucepan, stir in the rice, and simmer covered until the liquid is absorbed, as you would when making rice regularly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Then, use a heavier pan to dissolve sugar in milk—keep the heat low, and stir often. Add the cooked rice to the milk mixture in the heavier pan and raise the heat to a boil. In another bowl, dissolve the rice flour in 1/4 cup of water, stir in some of the hot milk, and pour this mixture into the simmering milk in a steady stream, constantly stirring. Lower the heat and gently cook the pudding for about 30 minutes, again, stirring constantly. If yours is still looking a little soupy after half an hour, give it as much time as it needs, but resist the urge to turn the heat up. The mixture will slowly thicken to the consistency of a porridge or thick bisque.
  3. After removing the heavy pan from heat, add in the rosewater and stir thoroughly. Your pudding shouldn’t be terribly pink, but the rosewater will leave a slight tinge and a beautiful fragrance. Fill your ramekins and dust with cinnamon (or, let guests decide how much cinnamon they want). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. The mixture will thicken and will become the ideal thick consistency only after being refrigerated.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lisa Schultz
    Lisa Schultz
  • Oset Babur
    Oset Babur
  • JJGood
  • felisalpina

7 Reviews

Lisa S. November 17, 2018
I made this a few times already and I love it! I add a few pods of cardamom while cooking and omit the rosewater because I don't like the floral taste. Excellent dessert!
JJGood October 19, 2017
Think I could use tapioca starch in place of the rice flour?
felisalpina August 9, 2017
Wrong! This pudding is called Güllaç if it contains rose (gül) water! If it's plain rice pudding, then it's Sütlaç. Please be precise next time you go oriental...
Just my two,
Oset B. August 9, 2017
Hi Monika,
Actually, Güllaç often does not contain any rose at all (despite the name), and is more of a pastry, not a pudding. Güllaç is made with pomegranate, and is usually made around Ramadan -- so these two are quite different, but both delicious!
Sharon J. August 8, 2017
Most ethnic rosewater is clear. Now there is a rose syrup that is pink. So when it says it will leave a slight " tinge" after addding the rosewater, why is that? It does mean rosewater and not the rose syrup, correct?
Oset B. August 9, 2017
Hi there! When added to the pudding, the rosewater I buy in most Armenian and Turkish grocery stores did give a very slight pink/purple tinge to the pudding, despite appearing clear (this is rosewater, not syrup -- you're correct)
dine August 8, 2017
Got confused with all this Milk mixtures. "In another bowl, dissolve the rice flour in 1/4 cup of water, stir in some of the hot milk, and pour this mixture into the simmering milk in a steady stream, " when are you adding it to the cooked rice? little confusing.