I decided to follow another craving this week and picked a simple but super yummy dessert-ish type dish. Muglee is essentially a supercharged version of cream of rice. My mom would make it often and usually during the winter time because it’s hearty and perfectly nourishing when it’s cold outside.
I realized I haven’t had muglee since I was a kid – like most of the dishes I’ll be making over the coming months. There isn’t much to the making of this dish, but I had a hell of a time obtaining the ingredients. I guess cream of rice isn’t a popular item around these parts. My dad, who really is such a trooper with all this cooking/blogging experimentation, scoured 4 different stores only to come home with rice flour vs. cream of rice. I have no idea if rice flour could be an adequate substitute and I had no intentions of finding out this time around.
Journey number one led me to a nearby specialty market where I found a box in seconds. Excited, I got back home only to discover we didn’t have sugar (who doesn’t have sugar??) anise or caraway seeds.
Back home and 20 bucks poorer than when I decided to make this dish, I was ready to get cooking. There isn’t much to making muglee – you throw all the ingredients into a pot and stir until the mixture boils. What starts out as a bland-looking, watery concoction transforms slowly into a thick, aromatic hot cereal of sorts. It’s muglee’s aromatherapy that brings back so many memories for me. The combination of cinnamon, anise and caraway hit my long-term memory in a way that transported me right back to the kitchen where my mom cooked.
I was a kid again, chubby and pumpkin-toothed, sitting impatiently at the kitchen table waiting to be fed. My mom, as short in stature as I am, stood over the stove stirring away and most likely yelling in Arabic at either me or my equally chubby and pumpkin-toothed brother. I remember the little glass bowls we used to pour the muglee into and the antiquated nut-grinder-funnel-thing that barely worked. I remember waking up in the morning and grabbing one of the cellophane covered bowls of muglee to munch on for breakfast.
There’s just something really warm and nurturing about this dish and I couldn’t be happier that it turned out exactly as I remembered it – a considerably different experience from last week’s attempt.
I even got my dad’s stamp of approval!
Check out the recipe for muglee in my previous post. I’d love to know what you think or if any of you have ideas for tweaking the flavor.