Sticky Rice with Mung Beans (Kichiri Qoroot)

Serves: 4 – 6

Yes I agree, sticky rice with mung beans doesn’t sound amazing.

Though trust me, it is. Just bare with me.

Over the Christmas break, I read an article in the Washington Post of the best cookbooks of 2020.

It featured an Afghani cookbook called Parwana and knowing how much Nat and I love Middle Eastern, it was promptly ordered on Amazon. (Plus the featured photo was amazing!)

What I didn’t realise is that it’s is an Australian cookbook from an Afghani family and restaurant in Adelaide, SA… called Parwana. Reading their backstory made me so happy.

Anyway, this is the first dish we had, wonderfully cooked by Nat.

We went through a bit of a Ethiopian phase a few months back and even did an Ethiopian feast and whilst the spice and flavours are unique, they’re not moorish.

Afghani food is.

It’s more honest, more homely than say Turkish. (Possibly this is a reflection of the home cooking nature of the book.)

And it’s unique in a particularly good way.

According to the book, this is traditionally a winter dish where the qoroot is a tart, reconstituted yoghurt which is something of an acquired taste; thus substituted with plain yoghurt which it is here. (There you go.)

We will cook much more from this book. I suspect many of the recipes will be typed up.

How fun.

Ingredients

4 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 large brown onion, finely diced
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp tomato puree

For the mini kofta

1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
1 long fresh red chilli, coarsely chopped
Small handful fresh coriander, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
250gm lamb mince
250gm lean beef mince
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the rice

1/4 cup sunflower oil
2 large brown onions, finely diced
1 large ripe tomato
2 cups medium-grain rice, rinsed
1 cup mung beans

For the toppings

3 cups Greek-style yoghurt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Red and green long fresh chilli, thinly sliced, dried mint and mild paprika to garnish

Method

  1. To make the kofta, finely blend the onion, chilli, coriander and garlic in a food processor. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again to form a fine paste. Place the lamb and beef in a large mixing bowl, add the blended paste with the ground coriander, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Mix to combine well with your hands for 5 minutes or until the ingredients are re fully incorporated and the mixture is slightly sticky.
  2. Shape teaspoons of the kofta mixture into balls, place them on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to become slightly firm.
  3. Meanwhile, finely blend the tomato and garlic in a food processor. Heat the oil in a large frypan over a medium-high heat and fry the onion until golden brown. Add the blended tomato and garlic and fry for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the sugar, curry powder, vinegar and 2 tsp salt and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and mix well to co,nine. Add 3 cups of water to the sauce, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to medium.
  5. Add the kofta to the pan, shaking the pan gently to make sure they are al submerged. Increase the heat to high, bring to the boil then reduce the temperature to medium. Cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened and is rich in colour. (This too us more than 25 minutes of course.)
  6. While the sauce is cooking, make the rice. Add the oil to a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and fry the onion until golden brown. Add the tomato and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the tomato has softened. Add the rice and mung beats with 6 cups of water and 3 tsp salt.
  7. Bring to the boil then reduce to low and stir in 1/2 cup more water. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the rice is cooked, soft and sticky, though not mushy.
  8. To make the toppings, whisk the yoghurt, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl to combine. (This will be poured into the centre of the kichiri qoroot.
  9. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a high heat to 170c. Remove from the heat and stir in the turmeric. Keep the oil hot.
  10. Before serving, ensure the mini kofta and sauce are hot. Spoon the rice out onto a large serving plater, making a well in the centre. Embed the mini kofta into the rice, drizzling some of the sauce over the rice as well. Garnish with chilli slices.
  11. Dot some yoghurt dressing around the kofta and pour it into the well in the centre of the rice. Sprinkle over the dried mint and paprika, then pour the hot turmeric oil over the yoghurt to create a sizzling centre on the plate. Serve immediately.

Brendan Pang’s Special Crab Fried Rice

Serves: 4

We both agreed, this is a next notch up Fried Rice.

1-hat, super-subtle Chinese cooking.

A definite addition to a home-cooked Chinese banquette.

Clearly not your local Chinese take away fried rice.

The key is the Chilli and Garlic dipping sauce. Poured on top just prior to serving, it adds a cracking zing on top of the crab and egg.

Wonderful.

Well done Brendan Pang!

Ingredients

Chilli and Garlic dipping sauce

1/4 cup white vinegar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp superfine sugar
2 Birdseye chillies, finely chopped (including seeds)
1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped

Fried Rice

4 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 spring onions, chopped and divided
4 cups cold, cooked short-grain rice
Pinch of ground white pepper
Pinch of superfine sugar
3 tbsp light soy sauce
Salt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved mustard greens (I substituted baby spinach)
1 cup cooked crabmeat
Handful of chopped fresh coriander, plus more for serving

Method

  1. Make the dipping sauce: in a small bowl, stir together all the sauce ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Make the fried rice: in a wok, heat the oil over a medium-high heat,. Add the ginger and cook, stirring for 30 seconds, followed by the garlic and one of the green onions. Stir-fry for an additional 30 seconds or until aromatic.
  3. Add the rice, increase the heat to high and toss with a spatula to combine. Use the spatula to flatten the rice and break up any clumps. Add the white pepper, sugar and light soy sauce. Toss and season with salt to taste.
  4. Using your spatula, spread out the rice into an even layer along the surface of the wok. Pour the beaten egg evenly over the rice and stir until all the egg is cooked and broken into pieces. (Nat reckons cooking the egg separately should be the way to go and I don’t necessary disagree with this.)
  5. Add the preserved mustard greens and crab and toss until combined and the crab is warmed. Add the remaining green onion and coriander and toss until well combined. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce and additional coriander.

Rick Stein’s Everyday Pilau Rice

Serves: 4

I did a cooking class 15 years ago with David Thompson, inarguably the world’s best Thai chef (and ironically, an Australian).

He covered a lot of ground on the day including 15 seconds on rice where he said the only technique anyone needed was the trick where you measured the water above the rice – however much rice, whatever the cooking dish – to be the distance between the top of your thumb and the first joint.

If you did this, this was all you needed to know.

I’ve lived by this rule since and I’ve cooked plenty of successful rice since.

Though jeez I love it when I find a different technique. A technique that works too!

Thanks Rick Stein. Loved it!

Ingredients

315gm basmati rice
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cloves
3cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 green cardamom pod, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
350ml water

Method

  1. Wash the rice and then soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the spices for 30 seconds until they smell aromatic.
  3. Drain the rice and add it with the salt; stir a little.
  4. Add the water and bring to the boil, then cook on a very low heat with the lid on for 10 – 12 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

Kylie Kwong’s Egg Fried Rice

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really delicious fried rice and with some sliced chilli, it is a meal in itself.

It is quick on all fronts, it isn’t greasy and it subtlety means it will pair with pretty much anything.

You’ll be asked to cook this again.

Ingredients

6 eggs
⅔ cup finely sliced spring onions
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp finely diced ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
4 cups steamed (Jasmine) rice
1 tbsp light soy sauce (extra)
1 ⅓ cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage leaves

Method

  1. Place eggs in a bowl with spring onions, soy sauce and ginger and beat lightly with a fork to combine.
  2. Heat oil in a hot wok until it starts to shimmer. Add the onion and toss for 30 seconds. Pour in the egg mixture and leave to cook for 10 seconds before folding the egg mixture in on itself and lightly scrambling for 1 ½ minutes or until almost cooked through. Add rice and extra soy sauce and stir fry for another 1 ½ minutes, breaking up the egg into smaller pieces.
  3. Toss in the cabbage, stir fry for another 20 seconds, combining well.

Tandoori Salmon with Fragrant Rice

Serves: 4

If you’re ever short of time, money and find yourself surrounded by 6 hungry people, the fastest ‘gourmet dish’ you can prepare is a tandoori chicken, or lamb. Put yoghurt and tandoori paste into a plastic bag with the meat (chicken strips, lamb cutlets etc), shake it all around and then BBQ.

People will think you’re a genius.

This particular dish is great not only because it’s  just as simple, and not only because it is tandoori salmon but because of the rice. It is worth every effort.

Ingredients

1 tbsp tandoori paste
¾ c (210g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
4 x 175g skinless salmon fillets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon, plus wedges to serve
3 green cardamom pods, bruised
3 whole cloves, bruised
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 ½ c (300g) Basmati rice

Method

  1. Combine the tandoori paste and ½ cup (140g) yoghurt in a bowl. Coat the salmon and set aside until ready to cook.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, zest and spices then stir for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add rice, stir once to coat in oil mixture the stir in 2 ¼ cups (560ml) water and a little salt. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes until liquid absorbed.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside, covered for 5 minutes until rice is tender. Stir in lemon juice and coriander.
  4. Meanwhile, pre-heat the grill to high. Place salmon on a foil-lined tray and cook under the grill for 6-8 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and cooked through.
  5. Serve with rice, extra yoghurt and lemon.

Cauliflower rice

Serves: 4

Going from fatso to less-so fatso was a journey that meant less drinking, less calories, more exercise and… crossing those food taboos I had always held true.

Like substituting.

Substituting strips of zucchini for pasta. Tofu for meat. And cauliflower for rice.

Because rice was one of those things that made me fat. The carbs, the inoffensive taste, the way it filled me up when covered in curries and sauce.

Rice though, is high in calories. And as I have done the simple arithmetic – less carbs in, more carbs out = weight loss = I’ve had to cross old taboos. Namely, rice cannot be substituted.

Well let me tell you my fellow fatsos, it can. And with no downside.

A cup of rice is 216 calories. A cup of cauliflower rice with the same density, 28. Ha.

And cauliflower has a lower GI so you’ll feel fuller longer!

And in ‘ricing’ the cauliflower, it takes on a new, really pleasant texture. Dry yet moist, solid, almost like cous cous. Tastes good too, especially when you run through some coriander and toasted cumin seeds.

216 calories is a brisk half hour walk. You’ve just burnt 28 reading this recipe introduction.

Take the plunge and see the light. This is how rice should be.

(Unless you’re in an Indian restaurant with a vindaloo in which case, it is safe to assume you have earned rice or need rice, or both…!)

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
Bunch of coriander, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted.

Method

  1. Cut the florets from the cauliflower leaving the tough stalk aside.
  2. Pulse the florets in a food processor until of a consistent, cous cous like consistency.
  3. Put the pulsed cauliflower in a microwave-proof bowl, cover in cling-wrap, pierce the cling wrap and microwave for 7 minutes (yes, 7 minutes) on high. Do not add water.
  4. Stir through the coriander and cumin seeds.
  5. See the light!