Mastic (μαστίχα -mastiha) is a white crystal-like resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus ) which grows only in the southern part of the island of Chios. It is a widely used natural flavoring in Greek cuisine, especially in pastry, and has been granted a Protected Designation of Origin status. Attempts to grow mastic trees even in northern parts of the same island were unsuccessful!!
Mastic gives flavor to crèmes, puddings, beverages, sweet breads and it is used the same way you would use vanilla. Our favorite mastic flavored pastry is tsoureki, a sweet Easter bread resembling brioche, and the most characteristic Greek dessert, kaimaki, is ice cream made from full cream scented with mastic.
A nice way to become familiar with the mastic flavor is to try this creamy rice pudding.
80gr rice for risotto
1 cup (250gr) water
2 ½ cup (600gr) milk
1 ½Tsp corn flour
A pinch of crushed mastic (1/6tsp)
A pinch of salt
Place the mastic crystals and 1Tsp of the sugar in a food processor and pulse to get a fine powder. Add the mastic powder, the rest of the sugar, and the corn flour to the cold milk and mix a few times to dissolve. Set aside.
In a sauce pan over medium heat put the water, rice and salt and bring to boil. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, just until the rice is tender. Pour the milk, corn flour, and mastic mixture into the rice mixture and cook until the pudding thickens slightly. Then pour into 4 individual ramekins and let cool.
It is best served cold.