At heart the dish is just rice, milk, sugar and vanilla - pretty damn basic and should be easy to be replicated. I assume it came in existence as a way to deal with leftover cooked rice.
My first attempt was not really a success. In part I think it is the recipe I used. The details may have been all been there but since I have never made it had no idea what each step should work out. As one example, it did not say cook the rice as one normally would, but called for the rice to covered by a 1/2 inch of water and then cooked.
I really have no idea what is expected to happen to the rice along the way so I ended with a lot of rice that had not fully disintegrated and in the end had settled to the bottom of the ramekins. My pudding was also thicker than it should have been. This recipe also had an egg wash, sort of, for the top of the pudding. Most recipes do not have this but I think it is crucial to get the crust on top. My only modification of the ingredients was that I used 1% milk and added a pinch of salt.
A different recipe I looked at but did not use called for a very different way to make. There was no corn starch and the sugar was stirred in at the very end.
I have looked for some more recipes:
- This one calls for short grain rice - I used long grain basmati. It also does not use corn starch
- This one also calls for short grain rice and uses corn startch, though it uses half and half cream for 1/4 of the milk. It also notes the water needed to cook the rice.
- Here is one with so few details of the technique that I am not sure if I could have made work. It uses corn starch or rice flour as a thickener
- This one is closest to the one that I used - it mentions that rosewater was traditionally used in it. I did not get rosewater in the Efes one and I am not really a fan of it because I find it to cloying.
- This recipe tells me I should cook the rice in water till it is a mush. It also uses very, very little rice. It makes it clear to me that the oven part is only needed brown the top and not to cook the dish.
So in considering all of these recipes, here is what I would do:
- Cook short grain rice in a bit more water than needed and cook it until it is overcooked. 1/2 cup of rice in 1 1/3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- I would then add 3 cups of milk to the rice and cook it over low heat till the rice disintegrates. I would add the seeds from one vanilla pod to the mixture at this time.
- I would then whisk 2 tablespoons of corn starch into 1 cup of milk, when done with that I would add it to the milk rice mixture on the heat. I would cook this until it was the consistency of heavy cream, it should coat the back of spoon and leave a clear spot when you run your finger through the mixture.
- I would now pour this into ramekins.
- I would let this cool and set up a bit. When it has I would make an egg yolk/milk egg wash. I would put about a teaspoon of this on top of each ramekin.
- Now I would put it all under the broiler but do so with the ramekins sitting in a water bath. Once it was the top was browned it would come out and be allowed to cool in the fridge.
I might add nutmeg or cinnamon to the dish
Here is a video of how to make the dish