Traditional Norwegian Risengrøt, Rice Porridge
This white, creamy rice porridge is served throughout Norwegian homes during most of the year. Leftovers can be used for Riskrem, a traditional Norwegian Christmas dessert.
- 1½ cups white medium grain rice, or risotto rice
- 3 cups water
- 5 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons white granular sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- Optional: 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (preferred), or ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Let rice and water simmer on medium low heat in a heavy pot, uncovered, until most of the water is absorbed. Stir occasionally. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
- Add a bit of milk (approximately ¼ or ⅓ of the total milk needed), continuing to add more over the next 45-50 minutes while simmering on low heat. Stir well every five minutes or so. (An alternative is to add all of the milk right away, then stirring almost constantly as you raise the heat a bit to let it come to a simmer. Then lower the heat again to keep at a simmer.)
- Add more milk whenever the porridge thickens as the milk absorbs until rice is nicely tender and porridge is thick and creamy.
- Add sugar, salt, and vanilla sugar; stir well and serve while hot. If vanilla sugar is not available, you may use vanilla extract; however, this brown liquid will change the color of the porridge and it will not be as white as it should be.
- If the porridge becomes too thick, add more milk to thin it.
- Serve in bowls and sprinkle with cinnamon and white sugar, and a dab of butter in the center. Serve red juice to drink with the meal.
- Leave leftovers in the refrigerator and thin with milk when reheating.
Christmas in Norway
Christmas time starts at the end of November. Everything gets decorated and people start giving each other small gifts every day until Christmas (yes, EVERY DAY). In addition, companies organize Christmas parties called julebord (for which everyone dresses up). It's also possible to organize julebord with a group of friends to party some more.
Christmas Day is spent rather peacefully because the main celebration is held on Christmas Eve. Everyone gathers and exchanges presents which are opened after dinner. It is also possible for Santa Claus to come knocking on people’s doors and staying for a while to chat before giving out the presents and getting on his way. Another important day is the day before Christmas Eve called Little Christmas Eve on which the Christmas tree is decorated (often with julekurver, small paper baskets in the shape of a heart).
Another interesting tradition is watching the Czech movie Three Wishes for Cinderella on every Christmas Eve. There's also the tradition of sending a huge Christmas tree to the United Kingdom for the Trafalgar Square as a thank you for the help received during World War II. And then there's romjul, the period between Christmas and New Year's Day when children go Julebukk, singing carols from house to house dressed as Christmas-themed characters.
Then, what about food? There's ribbe, pork ribs eaten with potatoes, sausage, sourkrat, sauce and lingonberries; pinnekjøtt, salted lamb ribs soaked in water eaten with potatoes, mashed kohlrabi and sauce; lutefisk, dried cod, stock fish or clip fish soaked in a solution of lye eaten with fried bacon, mashed green peas and boiled potatoes and rakfisk, salted and fermented trout or char. For dessert there's kransekake (a tower of rings made of crushed almonds), krumkake (thin circular cakes rolled with a special iron) and pepperkaker (gingerbread cookies and houses). There is also Risengrøt, rice porridge that is also left outside for nisse (gnome believed to live in the barn and taking care of the animals; some also say that nisse bring Christmas presents). From the Risengrøt leftovers, Riskrem (rice pudding) is made.
The food has to be accompanied with drinks – there is Akevitt (a very strong alcohol made from potatoes), juleøl (Christmas beer) and julebrus (sweet soda). God Jul! Merry Christmas!