Recipe of the week

Rizogalo translates as rice (rizi) and milk (gala) and is alive in the childhood memories of every Greek I've ever met. This amalgamation of a few simple ingredients creates a sweet indulgence that has been enjoyed by generations. I've kept the ingredients to a minimum, letting the starch from the rice create the creamy texture, and given it a fresh summery note with rose water and a sprinkle of crushed pistachios. The dish may need a little more or less liquid when cooking, depending on the quality of the rice and the accuracy of your oven, so keep some extra milk on standby just in case you need it to loosen the texture.

  • 190g Arborio rice
  • 50g caster/granulated sugar
  • 5cm piece of lemon peel (no pith)
  • 1.25 litres full-fat milk
  • ½ tbsp rose water
  • Rose syrup, for drizzling
  • Fresh or dried rose petals, to decorate (see tip at the end)
  • 2 tbsp pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

1. Add the rice, sugar, lemon peel and a litre of the milk to a pan over a low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will need to keep an eye on the pan - if you don't stir it enough or have the heat too high the rice will stick to the bottom. The beautiful soft white mixture won't thicken until the last few minutes of cooking, so stay with it.
2. Once the rice is just about cooked (you want it to retain a little chewiness but no crunch), fold through the remaining 250ml of milk and remove from the heat. Give it a few minutes to cool slightly, then stir in the rose water.
3. You can serve the pudding while it is still warm, or alternatively (and more traditionally), pour it into heatproof, sturdy glasses and then leave to chill in the fridge. It does thicken as it sets, so if you prefer a runnier rice pudding, add a little extra milk once it has chilled.
4. Just before serving, whether hot or cold, drizzle over some rose syrup and scatter the surface with rose petals and a few broken pistachio nuts. TIP Flowers have been used in cooking for centuries, but sadly some are poisonous, so never use a floral decoration unless you are certain it is safe. And never use petals from flowers that may have been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. Ideally, buy culinary quality petals (these are becoming more widely available now in supermarkets) or, if you use petals from the garden, wash them thoroughly before use and gently pat dry.

Cypriana: Vibrant Recipes Inspired by the Food of Greece and Cyprus, by Theo A. Michaels, is published on 21 May by Ryland Peters & Small, price £22

This recipe first appeared in the May 2024 issue of The Lady magazine.

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