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Gatnabour with Vartouhie Zaroukian

Armenian food is a family affair at the Zaroukian household. Vartouhie invited us in to show us how to make her classic Gatnabour, an arborio rice pudding. Her grandsons were close behind, arriving in the kitchen to see what she was making. Watch our video below, and see their reaction to one of their favorite dishes.

Vartouhie’s Gatnabour Tips

Gatnabour is a very simple dish, but always a crowd pleaser. It has only 3 ingredients: milk, arborio rice, and sugar.

Vartouhie brings the milk and rice to a boil together in a large saucepan for about 15 minutes. She uses only medium heat to stop the milk from burning, and to ensure the rice absorbs as much liquid as possible.

“Stir it regularly, so it doesn’t overflow!” she tells our producer, as it starts to boil.

She says not to add the sugar until the bubbles in the mixture begin to grow. This means the rice is nearly cooked.

“The sugar is to taste. You can have more, or you can have less.”

She stirs in the sugar so it melts, and lets the dish cook another 5 minutes or so.

You can tell that the gatnabour is ready because the bubbles will be quite big. That means the mixture will be thick when it cools down.

She transfers the gatnabour to a serving dish and, once cooled, Vartouhie draws a cross on the gatnabour with cinnamon, like her grandmother taught her to.

She serves a dish for her grandson. “If you need more cinnamon you can sprinkle more on.”

“Amazing!” her grandson exclaims.

Dietary Notes

Vegetarian, nut free, peanut free, gluten free


  • 4 cups (1 L) milk

  • ⅓ cup (80 mL) arborio rice

  • ¼ cup (60 mL) sugar

  • A pinch of salt

  • Cinnamon to serve


  1. Pour 4 cups (1 L) milk into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

  2. Add ⅓ cup (80 mL) arborio rice to the milk as it heats, and cook together, covered, until the mixture begins to thicken. Stir frequently so the milk does not burn on the bottom of the pan.

  3. Add ¼ cup (60 mL) sugar and the salt into the rice and milk and stir to mix.

  4. Continue cooking uncovered for about 5 minutes, until the gatnabour is at the desired thickness. This will be when the bubbles in the boiling gatnabour grow large. If it begins to sputter, it’s ready.

  5. Remove the gatnabour from heat and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.

  6. Serve with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

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