Posted on | November 12, 2010 | 11 Comments
Rice pudding is a favorite dessert in Peru, known locally as arroz con leche. But there’s another rice pudding dessert eaten here – a darker pudding.
It’s call arroz zambito. I suppose most of us have heard of Little Black Sambo, and are familiar with the connotations of the phrase “Sambo”. In polite company, it’s considered a racist term. Originally used specifically for people of mixed American Indian and African heritages, in the United States it later became a derogatory term for any black person in the US.
That American English term comes from the Spanish “zambo”. In Spanish, the word isn’t in and of itself considered racist or derogatory. While it certainly can be used in a derogatory fashion, in Peru it can also be used in a very loving and respectful form, as in the nickname of beloved criollo singer Zambo Cavero, who died last year. And while the term itself might not be considered racist, people who are classified as “zambo” are often treated very poorly in Latin American society.
So that brings us back to our food – Arroz Zambito, or Little Zambo Rice. It’s called that because of its dark color which it gets from chancaca, the dark, sweet natural sugar used in so many Peruvian desserts.
Y’all already know all about chancaca, right? Because you’ve been reading along with me everyday, right? (crickets chirping)
While it’s generally considered that the Spanish brought arroz con leche to Peru, the native Peruvians took the recipe and ran with it, turning it into something that is very Peruvian. So if we can look past the racial connotations of the name, we can see how it perfectly fits, in this marriage of European and indigenous Latin American flavors.
- 1 quart (liter) of water
- 3/4 cup of rice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 cloves
- 1/2 cup of raisins
- 1 cup of chancaca, grated
- 3 cans of evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- grated coconut and powdered cinnamon for garnish
How to Make It:
- Boil the rice in the water with the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
- When the rice has absorbed all the water, remove the cinnamon and cloves.
- Add the raisins, the chancaca, and the three cans of evaporated milk. (make sure it’s evaporated, not sweetened condensed!)
- Let it simmer for about 15 minutes, then add the rest of the sugar. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring constantly, until the pudding is of a creamy consistency.
Serve in a bowl, sprinkled with grated coconut and cinnamon, if desired.
NOTES: Some recipes say to use dark raisins, others say that golden raisins are traditional in this recipe. I say use what you like.
I should probably mention here – you can use brown sugar in place of chancaca. I’d probably use light brown sugar if I were at home.
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