Lebanese Traditions: Meghle

A sprinkle of dried coconut, raisins and crushed nuts (walnuts and almonds), and voila! The meghle is ready to be served.

Meghle is a Lebanese form of rice pudding, made of boiled rice flour, sweetened with cane sugar and flavored with anise, cinnamon and caraway. This dessert carries with it a special meaning: honor for a newborn child. Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, friends and relatives celebrate the birth of a new child by making large pots full of meghle, distributing the pudding in small glass dessert bowls, and putting it in the fridge to pull out, garnish and serve to guests in honor of the new addition to the family. The tradition attached to this pudding also speaks of the religious sentiment of Christian Lebanon: many Lebanese women make this pudding every Christmas to celebrate the new arrival of the Christ-child.

Given that it has now been three weeks since I gave birth to little Paul, it was high time to make a batch of meghle in celebration! I’ve been meaning to do it for about a week, but kept postponing it, first because I didn’t have all the ingredients, then because the laundry was more important, Charbel was crying, I was just too tired… and the list went on. Finally, today, both babies conveniently took a nap at the same time in the morning, leaving me free to run to the kitchen, toss all the ingredients into the pot and start stirring away. It’s easy to make, but slow to thicken, so time-consuming. It’s well worth it for in celebration of the beauty of life, however, especially when that life is your own child! My husband and I were finally able to enjoy a bowl as dessert after dinner, smiling down on our little one who was sound asleep next to us. We still have a large tupperware full in the fridge to last for the coming week. Any takers?

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