My mom knows rizogalo is the key to my heart. Her yiayia (grandma) dished it to warm the bellies of her grandkids. Her mother did likewise. Then it was my mom’s turn to keep the rizogalo tradition as an after dinner treat the same way her yiayia did. Blending her yiayias recipe with local author Ellen Furgis’ recipe and countless different batches later, my mom reached rizogalo perfection. Now she serves her version of rizogalo to me and my brothers—and of course all of our hungry friends who can’t get enough of Mama Saltas’ rizogalo.
Rizogalo is not only my favorite dessert but is also my favorite thing my mom makes, period. It always brings me back home. And I live at home. Yes, I’m one of those Greek kids who can’t seem to leave the nest. And why would I want to leave? I get daily lifetime lessons from my dad, my brothers constantly keep me laughing, and I get special homemade batches of rizogalo from my mom. I’ve got it made. As long as my mom keeps making her rizogalo, the only place I’m moving is into the kitchen to refill my bowl.
I’ve made rizogalo many times on my own using her recipe, but there’s just something going on when my mom makes it that makes it more delicious. Maybe she pours the milk in more smoothly or sprinkles the cinnamon on top more evenly than I do. Whatever she does, it’s thick. It’s creamy. It’s home. And now it’s yours. So go ahead, grab a bowl and warm your belly, it’s time to treat yourself with rizogalo.
- 1 cup rice (I prefer a long grain rice or Aborio)
- 10 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ cup butter
- 2 eggs, separated
- ground cinnamon for serving
- Pour milk into a deep saucepan then heat the pan and add the rice, sugar, and butter. Stirring constantly to avoid scorching, bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and continue to cook at a medium simmer uncovered until the rice is soft (about 1 hour). This allows for the milk to thicken. Stir the rice occasionally during the cooking.
- When the rice is fully cooked, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff, then blend in the yolk. Now, carefully dilute the egg whites with about 4-5 tablespoons of the hot pudding, beating continually to keep the egg from coagulating.
- Add the egg mixture slowly into the pudding and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat.
- You can enjoy rizogalo warm or cold. Pour rizogalo into bowls and serve warm, or cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator to chill.
- However you like your rizogalo, dust with a generous amount of cinnamon on top before serving. Enjoy!