Kabuni is an Albanian rice dessert, made with rice fried in butter and caramelized sugar. I would have had any idea or would have never cared to know about this recipe, if not for Lina’s February Cake Challenge. I somehow missed her first post on this cake challenge and caught up only on her last reminder. Given how my life was at that moment, I did not know if I could take part in the challenge. It has literally been months since I baked a cake and I really wanted my life to get back to normalcy. Out of the few options left out, Kabuni stood out for me. It was traditionally not a cake per se, but a very different rice recipe that involved baking. I immediately signed up for it. Life took many turns in the meanwhile and before I knew it, it was time to post the recipe.
I began frantically looking for any information on this sweet rice cake that I had never tried before. Only a couple of recipes turned out to match with each other and I decided use one of them. Traditionally, this rice cake is prepared with rice, raisins, cinnamon and cloves cooked in mutton broth (in some cases with mutton neck) and is then baked to caramelize the top. Not a typical cake, it is served as it is in the baking dish/cook ware. With the list of ingredients used and the measurements, this did not seem to fall any dessert category, especially with the use of meat in something sweet. Also, cloves and cinnamon seemed to dominate the flavor of this rice pudding. As with any new recipe, that I have never tried, I had my list of doubts and inhibitions as well.
With the basic details spread in front of me, I began planning out the dish in my head. Obviously, a few changes were needed to the original recipe. Mutton broth or neck or any meat had to go away if I wanted to taste it myself/serve it to my family. I replaced the mutton stock with regular water. I reduced the amount of butter and I also increased the amount of sugar used – the original recipe called for a tablespoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of castor sugar. This seems way too less to make this a rice pudding, so I increased the quantity of sugar used to suit our taste. Again, this did not turn out too sweet especially with the cloves and cinnamon dominating the flavor. The raisins and almonds gave a different texture to the rice. The rice itself was a little grainy and not too soft or gluttony. The highlight was the caramelized sugar forming a thin crisp layer on top. Although this dish resembled the Paramannam, a sweet rice pudding popular in my native – Andhra Pradesh ( a state in South India), it was quite unique in taste.
I served this hot out of the oven to my parents, who enjoyed it immensely. And I had it cold with my husband as a dessert after our dinner and loved it immensely. I hope Suzanne and Jhuls who are the judges for this month’s challenge find this not-so-cake-ish rice cake to be interesting.
To make Kabuni | Albanian Rice Pudding
What I used –
- Raw Rice, ½ cup
- Water, 2.5 cups
- Raisins, 2-3 tbsp
- Almonds, 10-12 + few slivers to garnish
- Brown Sugar, ½ cup
- White Sugar, 1.5 tbsp
- Cloves, 6-8
- Cinnamon Powder, a little less than ½ tsp
- Butter, 1 tablespoon + a little extra to coat the baking dish
How I made –
1. In a pan, heat butter on low flame. Add the brown sugar and stir it until it dissolves completely and begins to caramelize. Make sure you never leave it unattended as it can burn very soon.
2. Meanwhile, boil the water with cloves. In the pan with caramelized brown sugar, add washed rice (after removing all water content). Continue to roast it on low flame for 3-4 mins. Add raisins, almonds and cinnamon powder. Roast them in the sugary mixture for another 3-4 mins. Once the water is on rolling boil, strain off the cloves and add the water to the rice mixture.
3. Continue to cook the rice on low/medium flame until it is cooked. If required, the pan can be kept closed with a lid to fasten up the cooking process. Make sure the rice is not too mushy but at the same time, each grain of rice is cooked. If there is a little excess water, let it be. Switch off the stove.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 180°C for 10 mins. Butter a glass baking dish and add this cooked rice mixture. Spread it evenly and bake at 180°C for 7-10mins. Slowly remove the baking dish and sprinkle the white sugar on top and put it on toast mode for 5-6 mins until the top is caramelized and a thin crispy layer has formed. Remove it from oven.
5. Sprinkle more raisins and slivers of almonds on top. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder (if desired) either hot or cold.
- This sweet rice and raisin pilaf when made with mutton is usually served as a main dish. Adjust sugar quantities accordingly.
- Instead of boiling the water with cloves, cloves can be powdered and added to the dish. I thought it would be too over powering.
- Increase the quantity of cinnamon if you love the flavour.
- Adjust sweetness as per liking.
- Any variant of rice can be used. I used a local variant called Sona Masuri but Basmati would add to the overall flavor of the dish.
- My rice requires 2 cups of water for ¾th cup (we use old rice for better quality) and since I was cooking this dish in an open pan, I ended up using 2.5 cups of water for ½ cup of rice. Adjust water as per your measurements.
- If the rice is too watery, let it continue to cook in the oven. As per my measurements, the rice seemed almost done and it was perfect to bake.