Riz au lait (Rice pudding) (V,Vg)
The rice pudding, or riz au lait in French (literally “milky rice”), is truly an international dessert and one Ollie and I both know and love so it had to be featured on our website!
I have read that in India, it is cooked with spices such as cardamom or saffron, that in Morocco, it is very creamy and made with orange blossom water and a lot of cinnamon. In Turkey it is apparently cooked in small ramekins in which egg yolks are added to thicken the mixture. Maybe one day we will be lucky enough to try rice pudding in each of these countries! In France, it is made with cream and vanilla and I believe butter and nutmeg are involved in the preparation of the traditional English rice pudding.
I recently came to the realisation that rice pudding is, basically, porridge made with rice. (And basically, you can make porridge with any type of cereals – rye, millet, barley, quinoa… ). So of course it is delicious, hearty, filling and nutritious. Perfect for the type of weather we currently have – windy, cold, rainy and just miserable if you’re asking.
I don’t know about other French people, but the kind of rice pudding I like is creamy but not heavy, and smells of vanilla, lemon and cinnamon, but not overpowering. My grandmother – my mother’s mother this time, who sadly passed away 20 years ago – was making it all the time for her three daughters. And my mum made it – and still makes it – for me and my sister. I remember having riz au lait when it was dark and cold outside; the warmth and creaminess of the dessert would instantly make me feel better, and the smell of it would transport me into different worlds, from Madagascar to Sri Lanka back to my memories of my grandmother in her little kitchen in Brittany…
I veganise, you veganise, she veganises, we veganise…
To make it vegan, it was simply a matter of using plant-based milk (of course); sometimes the solution is so easy and straight forward that you do not think about it AT ALL. I had forgotten about riz au lait until recently, when my mum made it again with almond milk especially for me. And it was incredible, so warming and perfumed, just like I remembered it.
As soon as we got back to the UK, we went to buy the ingredients to make it again “Fritish style” and share our recipe with you. It proved a little bit complicated to find the type of rice that would work for this pudding as I couldn’t find dessert rice – that’s how we call it in France. Dessert rice has small rice grains, rounder than your usual white rice and almost translucent. That’s why I chose to buy rice for risotto (arborio rice) instead, as it looks similar, and I was very pleased with the result but if you can find dessert rice I would always recommend to go for that instead (and let me know where you’ve found it).
After Ollie gave me a look of disapproval for buying two vanilla pods for £9 (the pot was made of glass AND the vanilla was organic from Madagascar), we were back in our kitchen of South West London to make our Fritish rice au lait.
This recipe is easy and very cheap – if you use vanilla extract instead of vanilla pods – and can be eaten for breakfast or as a dessert or as a snack or anytime really, you do not have to have an excuse.
- 180 g arborio rice rice for risotto
- 80 g of white sugar
- 1 L of unsweetened unroasted almond milk
- ½ zest of a lemon or an orange !
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 vanilla pod sliced in half
Put the milk, the vanilla pod – that you will have sliced in half beforehand – and the lemon zest in a pan and put it to the boil on medium heat.
In the meantime, rince the rice under cold water and strain it. Once the milk is boiling, add the rice and put it on a low simmer for about 30 minutes with a loose lid on top.
When the rice is ready and still hot, you can add the sugar – I recommend to taste it regularly and adjust the amount of sugar to your taste. Add the cinnamon and mix it well.
Put it in a bowl or in little ramekins to cool down and eat when you can’t resist it anymore! It is as great if it is warm or cold.