This is our first installment of our two ‘IPS Centenary video-recipes and interviews’. In this video, Peter Paxinos presents the highly-revered Ithacan sweet – Rizo-Rovani. This recipe requires time and patience – but if you have both, you will be amply rewarded by the heady aroma and flavour of the spices; the toffee-like crust; and the gelatinous balls of rice in the body of the slice – all of which combine to offer a sensational eating experience. This recipe comes with a warning though – it’s impossible to have just one slice. If you don’t believe us, just make it and try resisting!
Immediately following the recipe, Peter shares his compelling Ithacan-Australian journey – a story not to be missed.
A sticky and sweet rice dessert from the Greek island of Ithaca.
You will need… For the rovani
- 500 g medium-grain rice
- 500 g raw sugar
- 500 g honey
- 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2.1 litres water
For the syrup
- 300 ml water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 100 g raw sugar
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1 piece of lemon rind
- 6 cloves
How to… Grind the rice
For this dish to work, you must only use medium-grain rice, so please don’t substitute with any other grain type.
Using a blender, grind the rice in small batches, until the grains are about one third of their original length. Only a few seconds of pulsing is all that is required.
Sift the ground rice to remove all of the rice flour. Place the sifted rice into a bowl and set aside. Discard the rice flour. It is very important to remove the rice flour, otherwise it will cause the rovani mixture to thicken quickly, without allowing the rice to cook and the mixture to caramelise.
Prepare the rovani
Pour 2.1 litres of water into a large pot (approximately 3 litre) and add the sugar, honey, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir the ingredients together. Slowly heat the ingredients to a gentle simmer.
Add the rice in small amounts, stirring between each addition.
Gently simmer and continually stir the mixture for at least 1 to 1½ hours. The mixture is ready when it has caramelised slightly, the rice is al dente, and it comes away from the edges of the pot when you stir it. This is the most critical stage of the cooking process and requires patience and muscle power.
Use olive oil to baste a round aluminium baking-dish with approximate dimensions – 34cm diameter and 4-5cm depth.
Immediately pour the rovani mixture into the dish and gently shake the dish to even out the mixture.
Allow the rovani to cool in the baking-dish at room temperature for at least 1½ hours.
Once the mixture has cooled, use a flat-edged knife to cut the rovani into 4cm wide strips. Scrape the knife clean and dip the knife in boiled water between each slice. Rotate the baking-dish and cut the rovani again in 4cm strips to create diamond shaped pieces.
Place a clove in the centre of each piece.
Bake the rovani
Place the rovani in a conventional oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for at least 1½ hours, or until the top has caramelised to a deep golden-brown.
Make the syrup
Place all of the syrup ingredients into a small pot and bring to a gentle boil. Boil for 8 minutes.
Set the syrup aside and allow it to cool.
Remove the cinnamon sticks, lemon rind and cloves from the cooled syrup.
Finish the rovani
Once the rovani has baked, remove it from the oven and immediately pour the cooled syrup all over the top. The syrup will be absorbed by the rovani and will thicken as it cools again.
Allow the rovani to cool at room temperature for at least 1½ hours.
Serve the rovani
Run a flat-edged knife around the outside of the rovani. Using the score lines as a guide, cut the rovani into diamond shaped pieces and serve.
Recipe makes 50 pieces.