Everything about Armenian food!

Celebrating a heritage of Armenian recipes

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gatnabour - Armenian Rice Pudding

After dealing with some heavy-duty dental work this past week, I was only able to eat very soft foods for a few days. This presented me with the perfect opportunity to make Gatnabour. What an excuse, right? Its soft, creamy texture and delicately sweet taste was just what I needed after suffering in the dental chair for so many uncomfortable hours. It’s simple to make, but be ready to stand by the stove for about an hour to stir - and - keep a watchful eye on the pot. The end result will be worth every minute of your time!
Gatnabour Ingredients (Rice in photo is already cooked to 'al dente' stage)

Rice pudding (GATNABOUR)                                           Yield: 8 servings
1 cup water              
¾ cup uncooked rice
4 cups warm milk
pinch of salt
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. rose water, optional
ground cinnamon, optional

1. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Stir in rice; reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until water is absorbed – about 15 minutes. Make sure rice doesn’t burn or stick to bottom of pot. Rice will be a bit ‘al dente’. Remove rice from pot and set aside. Wash and dry the pot before going on step #2.

Gatnabour is bubbling and thickening
2. Add milk to the same 4-quart pot used in step #1. Heat milk until it is warm, but not boiling. Add the al dente rice to the warm milk and cook on low to medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should be thickening at this point, as the milk begins to evaporate. Stir in the salt and sugar; cook for 15 minutes more and continue to stir. The mixture should begin to resemble thickened rice pudding. Remove from heat and stir in the rose water, if using.
3. Pour pudding into individual dessert dishes; allow cool at room temperature. Serve immediately. The pudding can also be served chilled. Sprinkle top with cinnamon just before serving, if desired.
Gatnabour is ready to serve!
  Robyn's Notes:
  • I used skim milk and it came out great! The rose water and cinnamon added  very subtle, satisfying flavors to the pudding.
  • For a more festive touch, sprinkle the top with ground pistachio nuts, or add lemon or orange zest to the mixture as it cooks.


  1. when do you use the 4 cups of warm water? I am assuming that is when the milk is warm?

    1. To clarify: You don't use 4 cups warm water, it's 4 cups of milk. Perhaps the ingredient list should just read '4 cups milk' to make it less confusing.The milk is heated to just below the boiling point in step #2 so that it is warm, then the partially cooked rice is added. I hope this explanation helps.

  2. I think you have given my sisters and myself the missing rice pudding of our childhood that went to the grave with our 100% armenian grandmother. We have been searching and trying to produce her sweet, slightly souping, able to slip milk onto the spoon rice pudding!! Can't wait to make this!!

    1. I'd love to know if this recipe is similar to the one your grandmother used to make. Please keep me posted!

  3. Looks amazing and comforting. Sounds like something I would really enjoy right now :)

  4. What is the bed kind of rice do this recipe?

  5. What type of rice is best to use for this recipe?

    1. Your best bet is to use a short grain rice which tends to have more starch. I would not recommend using parboiled long grain rice for this dessert.

  6. Robin, my grandmother and mother made gatnabour exactly as you do. They did not use rose water, which is a matter of taste or how it was made in their region. It is yummy and doesn't last too long in the refrigerator!

    1. It doesn't last long around our home, either!

  7. Thank you for the inspired feelings. My mother prepares it too! I'm from Russia (Rostov-on-Don) overpowered my ancestors from the Crimea in 1779, unfortunately, most Armenians do not know the language (we're talking on the western dialect) and many recipes to die together with our parents. But thanks to you I find painfully familiar recipes and rejoice in tears. Thank you again. Be healthy and happy! Sincerely, Marina Kuruzyan