Old fashioned cinnamon spiced apples between two layers of soft, sweet and luxurious 'rizogalo', the greek rice pudding.
Arroz con leche, creamed rice, rizogalo, riz au lait, arroz-doce or kheer?
From Mexic, Portugal or UK to Turkey and India, this rice pudding seems to be present everywhere- be it enjoyed with dashes of cinnamon, raisins or various types of nuts, it is worldwide delicious.
I'm sure its simplicity & convenience must be the common factor. But the taste is what I'm interested in. A custardy rice, boiled in creamy milk and finished with a hint of good quality vanilla and a bit of sweetener - a dessert that can soothe all our worst days... combined.
But, it's a super nourishing, gentle and a naturally gluten-free dish which tastes like angel's dessert and this version with spiced apples is even better. The sweet, velvety rice just becomes better around a tangy and juicy companion.
This is a recipe I learned from both my grandmas. Huh, memories coming through as we speak.
So to simplify, the story begins when my parents renovated our house and sent me and my sister to live with my paternal grandma for a few months. She was and still is, incredibly attentive with her health and diet and I always admired that about her. That summer, she used to cook rice pudding for us regularly, almost every night. It wasn't hard to guess it must be a simple recipe, so I asked her to show me how she makes the pudding. Of course, the recipe was using whole cow milk, a bit of butter, egg and commercial vanilla. She started making it, and I was watching carefully.
So back to our house, where we shared the same courtyard with my maternal grandparents, I realised my grandmother does something similar, but it's a baked dish and has apples too, so I learned from her how to squeeze the apples (and drink the juice!), mix them with sugar, add vanilla and cinnamon and put a generous layer of that apple situation right in between the rice pudding. The easiest recipe ever!
Obvious, this was my first dessert I cooked by myself when I and my sister moved away to go to college, in another city. I also did this for my first boyfriend and decorated the dish with a smiley face made from shredded apples :)
Vanilla, turmeric and milk rice pudding with warming spiced apple layer
Vegan, Gluten-free, Nut-free, Plant-based
Makes 1 X 20 cm pie dish (around 3-4 servings)
Total time: 1h 30 mins.
Vanilla, turmeric and milk rice pudding
1 (160 g) cup rice, short/medium grain
1 1/2 (270 g) cup water
pinch of salt
1 cup plant-based milk (I used unsweetened oat milk)
1 1/2 tbsp of your desired sweetener (I used honey)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp (7 g) virgin coconut oil
coconut oil or evoo, for greasing the pie dish
Warming spiced apple layer
2 medium red apples
1-2 tbsp sweetener (I used wild honey)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
To make the rice pudding, rinse the rice and place in a small pot with water and salt. Boil uncovered, on medium heat, and stir from time to time so it won't stick to the bottom.
When the rice is almost done and it absorbed the water, add the milk, coconut oil, honey, vanilla and turmeric and cook until the rice is done, keeping an eye and stirring from time to time. Leave aside.
To make the apple layer, wash, peel and shred the apples. You can now preheat the oven at 175°C / 347°F .
Squeeze the apple juice in a bowl, using your hands. You can enjoy that now!
Place the shredded apples in a clean bowl and mix together with the sweetener, lemon juice, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well.
Take a 20 cm pie dish and grease it with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil.
Divide the rice pudding into 2 and place one layer of rice, followed by a layer of the apples and then closing with the remaining rice pudding.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Let cool or enjoy hot.
Experiment and make this rice pudding your way: add saffron instead of turmeric or a splash of rum would be nice too.
Add cardamom and ginger to the apples, for more flavour depth. Also, you can try this using other fruits instead of apples - pears, sautéed bananas or rhubarb would be just amazing.
Another fun way to do this is skipping the oven baking part and simply plating the rice pudding along with some caramelised apples.
**** I used the Falcon Enamel 20 cm small pie dish for this recipe, but if you have a bigger casserole, just double/triple the quantities to fit yours. This pie dish has no more then around 3-4 servings.