Muhalabia (muh-hahl-ahb-bee-yah) is a custard-like pudding from the Middle East with a very delicate flavour. It may be made hi advance and chilled until it is required.

4 oz. ground rice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 pints milk

2 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 tablespoons orange-flower water

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg and for change, try light aromatic Muffins with Herbs.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the rice, sugar and 4 tablespoons of the milk together to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, scald the remaining milk over moderate heat (bring to just below boiling point). Remove the pan from the heat and pour the milk on to the rice mixture, stirring constantly.

Return the milk mixture to the sauce-pan. Place it over moderate heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture boils, remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the vanilla essence, orange-flower water and nutmeg. Pour the mix-ture into a large serving bowl and allow it to cool, stirring occasionally. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour, or until the pudding has cooled completely, before serving.