Tag Archives: Rice

Indian-Inspired Kerala Stir-Fried Beef and Rice

Beef Stir-Fry (9069)The other day I posted one of my favourite entries in C&T on my Facebook page. It was an assignment for a Blogging University course (which has now ended) that included a quote. I remember not knowing what quote to choose, but being a creature of habit, and thus feeling like a hobbit most of the time, I decided to go for one from Tolkien’s masterpieces. I got loads of positive feedback for that piece and the recipe I included in it is one that I make again and again. I’m sure you’ll agree that a walnut and banana loaf cake is one of the most comforting bakes around. That and a scrumptious cup of thick hot chocolate.

So you won’t find many recipes on this blog that venture too much out of my comfort zone. C&T started out, and still is I think, a place to share what I cook at home, primarily in a small kitchen, as the ones I had back in the UK. Now I have a somewhat larger room to play in. I am lucky and I like the space, though it wasn’t easy to adjust to it.

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Country Captain Chicken with Rice

Country Captain Chicken with Basmati Rice (9964)

I’m sure that summer’s officially here, one, because it’s almost unbearably hot, and two, because I buy chicken by the bucket, or whatever expression you might choose to put instead. There are tonnes of reasons for which this happens. The first one that comes to mind is that it makes a perfect meal for when I have people over for supper. So I keep various chicken pieces in the freezer at once. This past week I went to the butcher twice; they were on my list for both trips, simply because I had guests last Saturday and I ran out of chicken breasts. As I must have mentioned somewhere before on C&T but I must do so again I would rather have the dark meat bits. The meat next to the bones is generally more tender and juicy. However lately, since the turn in the weather, I much prefer grilling or pan-frying a marinated chicken breast. The marinade bit is most important. It’s amazing what some extra virgin olive oil together with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper does to a piece of meat, and to vegetables! Place the meat in a dish, marinate, cover with cling film in the fridge for a couple of hours. Grill, serve with a simple salad and voila, you have a meal. Right there.

This recipe is a little different, in that you don’t even need a grill pan and there’s no marinade prep but it’s easy. I like it because it resembles a curry without the extra spice. It comes in handy when you know you will feed a group of people who undoubtedly have various likes and dislikes, or even allergies and/or intolerances. As months go by I am often finding myself in this predicament, which can be a headache on one hand, but a positive thing for me, meaning I’m reconnecting with people. It’s been almost a year now since I moved back from Surrey. Unbelievable.

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Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken (7942)

These past few days have been good. The clearing process of our extra bedroom in preparation for our very special guest next month is almost in full swing. I say almost because it’s really kind of stop-and-go. Tuesday was my most productive day so far. I cleaned, cleared, swept, mopped, dusted and my vanity area now smells of perfume – in the bad sense though! I was so tired by the end of the day as I am right now after an intense baking and photography session that I broke a perfume bottle. It flew right across the furniture, over my head and onto the floor. Boo. Glad to say it wasn’t anything expensive but it was a gift and still I was a bit upset. Those bottles are resilient though – I’m truly impressed. I don’t know anything about their manufacturing process but the bottle just cracked in half. There was a minimal amount of glass shards in the end so there were no unfortunate accidents, thank goodness. However the smell…woah…it has been making me dizzy and no amount of cleaner has made the smell dissipate. It’s still there and still going strong. How my insides felt this morning as I woke up I really cannot describe.

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Aubergine Chermoula

Aubergine Chermoula (9562)

Thank goodness and everything or anyone you and I might believe in, Christmas came and went without a hitch. I promised myself I wouldn’t worry too much about it but in reality J and I spent the best part of the week before feeling sick about the whole thing. At one point I even thought I had some sort of stomach ulcer. Part of it was my fault I’m sure – but looking back I cannot see what was all the fuss about the cooking, since I spent two days prepping everything beforehand. But you see, it was not all about the cooking. Anyhoooo, everything turned out just fine.

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Warm Rice Salad with Halloumi

Warm Rice Salad with Halloumi (6576)

I have a recurring dream. A warm Spring evening, a quiet beach, clear blue sea, a deckchair, plenty of fresh ice cold water and a cocktail. Nothing big really. Just a little peace and quiet. J says “in your dreams” and he’s right: the image will stay there though – at least for the time being. Of course the scene would not be complete without something good to eat.

Recreating the dream is difficult, especially when you’re living in a one bedroom flat miles away from the water, but cooking an easy lunch takes no more than thirty minutes. I tend to eat this sort of meal when I am alone, but lately I have been making this quite frequently. There are loads of good things to say about a salad: one, you can include/exclude any ingredient you like; two, you don’t really need to go to the shops for one specific item, and three, you can easily increase the quantities according to the number of people you want to feed. At this point you will probably protest: does one really have halloumi as a stand-by? Not usually no, but I must admit I do buy it often. As well as its salty taste, it doesn’t melt in a hot pan. Don’t think about adding it to a pizza instead of mozzarella then, but it found a place here, and it is certainly well-deserved.

Serves 2-4

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups cold water
  • around 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional, but I love the colour)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 6 chestnut mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 100g fresh spinach, washed and left whole
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 large vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 150g Cypriot halloumi, cubed
  • juice of half a small lemon

Wash the rice underneath cold running water until the water is clear. (Another option would be to put the rice in a pan and add around a tablespoon of vegetable oil and let the rice heat up while stirring it. Then you can add the water as usual.) Place the rice in a pan, cover it with the cold water, add the turmeric, put it on the hob on medium heat. When it starts to bubble away, decrease the heat to minimum (if using a gas cooker) and let it absorb all the water till it is tender. If using an electric cooker like me, switch off the ring on which you are cooking the rice, and let the rice cook by absorption.

Heat a large shallow pan, pour in the olive oil, and tip in the garlic, spring onions and garam masala. You can substitute this with mixed spice if you wish. After a couple of minutes add the chesnut mushrooms and spinach, salt and pepper, and cover the pan to let the spinach wilt. I don’t like to cook the mushrooms too much, but this is totally up to you. When the spinach has drastically decreased in volume, add the tomatoes and the halloumi. Stir everything together and switch the heat off.

When the rice is completely cooked, fluff it with a fork. Add it to the salad mixture, give everything a good mix, add the lemon juice, taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Serve either immediately, or take it with you to the beach, or to the garden with a book and a glass of white…It’s your choice.

If you want to bulk up the recipe, you could add cooked chickpeas to the lot.

Enjoy!

Rob x