I think it’s safe to say that most cultures have their own version of rice pudding and the Greek culture is no different. My Yiayia used to make Rizogalo (Greek rice pudding) for us when she’d babysit us as kids and let me tell you upfront → homemade rizogalo beats store bought any day!
So I asked my Mum for her recipe and here’s her exact words: rice, milk and sugar.
That’s it. No instructions, no measurements, just the ingredients. I guess she thought I could figure this one out on my own..
So I googled and I consulted my Greek cookery books and I came to the conclusion that everyone has an opinion on how Rizogalo should taste; some like it sweeter, some like it runnier, zestier, cinnamony-er and the list goes on (Greeks can be very picky, I should know! Actually, I should probably say, Nate should know!)
After searching through various recipes I decided that for my recipe, I wanted to add a cinnamon stick and lemon zest while the Rizogalo cooked and it sure was a good choice! These flavours work so well together; the cinnamon added a nice earthy tone and the zest gave a subtle fresh flavour. I made a second batch while I was in Australia and forgot the cinnamon (and didn’t have any lemons!) but it still tasted absolutely divine! So don’t worry if you don’t have any on hand, your rizogalo will taste just as good without them.
RIZOGALO, SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS!
My favourite way to eat Rizogalo is warm, pretty much off the stovetop but I have this weird ability to eat really hot food! That being said, in summertime, I love having this dish cold, straight from the fridge. My Mum would fill up small glass dishes with Rizogalo sprinkled (generously) with ground cinnamon, cover them with cling wrap and keep them in the (second) fridge for whoever wanted them. It was the best!
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 lemon rind (no pith)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 cups of whole milk (1.9 litres or ½ gallon)
- ground cinnamon or cinnamon sugar
- lemon zest *optional
- Place rice, sugar, lemon rind, cinnamon stick and vanilla in a pot.
- Place one cup of milk in the pot and turn heat to medium low.
- Stir constantly until the rice absorbs most of the milk.
- As it absorbs each cup, pour in another cup (or two at a time) and continue to stir. Make sure you don't let the rice burn at the bottom of the pan.
- Continue to repeat this process until the rice is fully cooked.
- Spoon into ramekins or dessert dishes and place in the fridge.
- When you're ready to serve, sprinkle the tops with ground cinnamon (or cinnamon sugar) and lemon zest if you like.
ARBORIO OR LONG GRAIN?
Traditional recipes use long grain rice but I decided to use arborio because it provides a more creamy texture. Arborio rice has more starch than regular rice and one cup can absorb up to 6 cups of liquid without the rice going mushy so I would splurge the little extra if you can but if long grain is all you have on hand, your Rizogalo will turn out just fine!
Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and hashtag it #FUNSIZEAUSSIE
I’d love to see what you get up to!