Oriental Prawn Rice Pilaf

I’m not sure where this name came from but it has been in the family for many years. It is really a light rice pilaf dish. With mild Indian flavours, only a slight kick of chilli and the sweetness of the prawns, peas, carrots, it is an unusual but delicious combination.

Oriental Prawn Rice Pilaf

It’s a lovely accompaniment to grilled fish, like Spicy Salmon Fillets, or a meal in itself with a tangy Cucumber and Yoghurt Raita.

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes Resting time: 15 minutes

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 500g green prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 1.5 cups of basmati rice
  • 1 medium carrot diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 5 medium size mushrooms diced into small pieces
  • 2 large onions sliced into thin rings
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder or masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 stick of cinnamon bark
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • handful of fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger(1/2 a fingers worth) and garlic (3 cloves)crushed
  • 2-4 green chillies chopped in large pieces (thirds)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter for frying prawns
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying onions

METHOD:

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

2. Shell and devein prawns, I cut them in half if they are too large, then marinate prawns with chilli powder/masala.

3. Parboil rice with 5 cups of water with salt until half cooked about 8-10 minutes (stain par boiled rice and set aside…don’t forget it on the stove, while doing other prep, and overcook the rice!)

4. Dice carrots and mushrooms while rice is cooking. (check the rice and strain) Then par-cook the carrots covered with water in the microwave for 2 minutes on high.

5. Heat butter and 1/2 oil in a large casserole dish over medium heat , fry prawns in batches for 2-3 minutes until just sealed, do not cook them through as they will cook in the oven. Remove prawns, draining from oil and place aside.

Fry prawns in small batches for a few minutes only.

6. Add additional oil to leftover pot and add cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, curry leaves and heat gently. Add onions and cook gently until transparent.

7. Add cumin powder, turmeric, green chillies, ginger and garlic to opinion mixture and mix through onion mixture, stirring for 2–3 minutes.

8. Remove the pot from heat, then remove the onion mixture from the oil. (This seems illogical as you add them back in later, but it has something to do with the interaction between the parboiled rice and the oil that does make a difference to the finished dish)

9. Add rice, mushrooms, drained carrots, peas and mix evenly, coating mixture in the leftover oil/butter in the pot. Then add prawns and onion mixture and gently mix through again.

10. Drizzle a cup of water over the whole dish and place in oven for 45 minutes. Leave it to sit in the pot to rest for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Oriental Prawn Rice Pilaf with Grilled Salmon and Tarka Dhal

#Loobia #Polow with Indian #meatballs

Loobia or Lubia Polo is a very popular Persian comfort dish.

It is a rice dish traditionally layered with green beans, spiced ground meat, tomatoes, herbs, and infused with saffron.

I discovered recipes for the traditional version when looking for something interesting to do with the Indian meatballs I had in the freezer and the big bag of green beans in the fridge!

A bit like an Iranian version of an Indian Pilaf or Briyani it seemed to me.

So I embarked on developing my version with the Indian Meatballs I had but these could more authentically replaced with lamb or beef mince. Have to say my version works really well but you have to make the meatballs first so is an extra step.

I made this a few months ago and tweeted a pic of the finished version and it has attracted more than 20,000 impressions! My most ever…so I thought I had to share the recipe! Hopefully you’ll like it too!?

Like Briyani it takes quite a few steps but worth it!

Prep time with meatballs: 1 hour including making and cooking meatballs, 25 minutes if using mince.

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

    200g green beans cut into thirds
    2 tomatoes chopped
    2 onions – I finely diced, 1 halved then thinly sliced
    3 cloves garlic and 2 red chillies ground to a paste
    1 cinnamon stick
    Handful of curry leaves (optional
    1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
    2 dried chillies (optional)
    1 teaspoon cummin powder
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1.5 cups rice
    1 tspoon Saffron threads soaked in warm water
    Salt
    2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
    Plain yoghurt
    Coriander to garnish

Method

1. If using meatballs, Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius, use recipe to make the meatballs (but don’t make the chutney in that recipe! Just the meatballs) and cook meatballs for only 10 minutes or just until they are browned and sealed on the outside as they will cook fully in step blow.

2. While meatballs are cooking prepare other ingredients. Pound garlic and chillies, slice and chop onions and keep separated, chop tomatoes.

3. Par boil rice in salted water with saffron until half cooked. Drain and set aside.

4. In a heavy based casserole dish or pan, heat vegetable oil then add cinammon stick, diced onions, cummin seeds, dried chilli and curry leaves if using , cook slowly until onions go transparent.

5. Add garlic, chilli paste and cummin and turmeric to onion mixture and mix through over medium heat.

(6. If using mince, add mince to onions now and sauté until mince breaks up and Browns.)

7. Add tomatoes and green beans. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until tomatoes start to break down about 3-4 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup water if needed.

8. If using meatballs, add them now.

9. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes to allow meatballs to absorb flavours and sauce to thicken. If using mince, then simmer for an extra 5 minutes.

10. While mixture is simmering fry thinly sliced onions in butter or oil until golden brown and slightly caramelised.

11. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

12. In a ovenproof dish, preferably a deep dish with a lid, smear bottom and sides with some oil then add a layer of rice, then sprinkle with some onions, then add a layer of the meat and beat mixture, repeat until mixture and rice is finished. Reserve some onions for the top.

13. Pour 1/2 cup of water evenly across the dish. Cover dish with foil not touching onions, and place lid on top to seal.

14. Place in oven to cook rice and allow flavours to permeate through rice for about 20 minutes. Check to see that rice is cooked but still fluffy.

15. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with yoghurt, pickles and salad.

This version doesn’t give you the burnt crispy bottom that is traditional of Loobia Polow but this could be achieved by finishing the dish off by cooking in a pot on the stove for last step instead of in oven.

Vegetarian Rice Pilau

This is a quick and easy rice dish that is delicious just with Tarka Dhal, raita and pickles, or as a side dish served with Indian Hunter’s style roast lamb or curries. It is even better the day after and can be eaten cold like a rice salad.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time:10-15 minutes
Ingredients:

1 cup basmati rice
4-5 cups water
1 brown onion finely diced
1 carrot diced
1 cup cooked corn kernels (canned is fine)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 tspoon cummin seeds
Handful of curry leaves (optional)
1 clove garlic and piece of ginger crushed to a paste
1/2 tspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cummin powder
Handful of coriander leaves chopped for garnish (optional)
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt

Method

1. Bring 4.5 cups of water to a boil, add 1 tspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of basmati rice. Par-boil rice for 10 minutes until rice is half-cooked, strain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in non-stick pot that has a lid, add cummin seeds and curry leaves and heat until fragrant, add onions and cook over low heat until transparent.

3. Add ginger and garlic, chilli powder and cummin powder and mix through onion mixture until heated through.

4. Add carrots and half a cup of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt, simmer for 3-4 minutes until carrots soften, add corn and frozen peas and simmer for a minute or so, then add rice and another half a cup of water. Mix rice and vegetables, then cover with lid and simmer for 4-5 minutes, checking once or twice to ensure rice isn’t sticking or burning, add a small amount of water if necessary. Check that rice is just cooked and turn off heat.

5. Mix through 2 teaspoons of butter, check to see if additional salt is needed, cover with lid and allow to steam in own heat for 10 minutes or so before serving. Rice should be fluffy and full of flavour. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Ps. You can add other diced vegetables of your choice when cooking the carrots. potatoes and green beans work well, but might need slightly longer to cook, before adding corn and peas.

Durban Style Chicken Briyani

Briyani-Breyani-Biryani…, however you want to spell it, is a traditional feast dish in the homes of Indian families. The accompaniments of Grapes Apple Mint Raita, Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney, Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt and Red Lentil Tarka Dhal with turmeric and ginger make the serving of biryani a true foodie experience.

This family recipe includes lentils, boiled eggs, spicy potatoes along with the marinated chicken and golden fried onions which combine for a protein and carbohydrate packed pot of deliciousness. Definitely best kept for special occasions!

The chicken can be replaced with lamb for an equally wonderful result.

This recipe should be started the day before or early in the morning to allow the chicken to marinate in the yoghurt-tomato based marinade which tenderises and flavours the chicken. The time and effort required to prepare this delicious layered rice dish is definitely worth the effort and the leftovers are especially delicious the day after

I have organised this recipe with the ingredients and method for each different steps to make it easier to follow, as well as providing a shopping list at the end to help you get all the ingredients you’ll need.

Chicken and Marinade

1 large onion sliced
50g butter and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 stalks of curry leaves stripped from stalk
4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
1 can of chopped tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic and equivalent amount of fresh ginger
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1.5 teaspoons of cummin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
About 1.5 kg of chicken with or without bones – I use a mix e.g 3 chicken thigh cutlets with bone or 3 chicken drumsticks as well as 4 chicken thigh fillets cut into large chunks

Step 1: Marinate Chicken
Heat oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan, add curry leaves and fry until fragrant, then add onion and cook gently until brown and caramelised. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then pound the onions and curry leaves in a mortar and pestle to break up onion and create a rough paste.

In a separate bowl add the chicken, yoghurt, tomato, pounded onions, ginger and garlic, and rest of spices. Mix well and allow to marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Step 2: Boil Eggs

3-4 eggs
Hard boil eggs, shell and halve
Set aside

Step 3: Par-boil Rice

2.5 cups of basmati rice
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon salt
5-6 cups water

Add water to large pot and bring to boil with turmeric and salt
Add rice and cook for 8-10 minutes until par-boiled only – do not overcook at this stage or rice will go mushy when cooked in oven.
Drain rice in colander and set aside

Step 4: Par-cook Potatoes

2 large potatoes peeled and cut into medium size chunks
½ tspn chilli powder
½ tspn cummin powder
½ tspn turmeric powder
½ tspn salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add potatoes to bowl with spices and 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil to help coat potatoes evenly in spices

Heat rest of oil in a non-stick frying pan, add potatoes in small batches if necessary, frying potatoes until the outside of the potatoes are fried and an outer “skin” is created. Potatoes will not be cooked through but remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

Set aside

Step 5: Lentils

2 cans of brown lentils, drained
Set aside

Step 6: Onions for topping

1 large onion cut into thin slices
50 g butter and 1 tablespoon oil

Fry onions gently in butter and oil until golden but not brown
Set aside

 

Step 6: Cook Chicken

2 tablespoons oil
1.5 teaspoons of cummin seeds
5 green cardamon pods
2 sticks of cinnamon (preferably cinnamon bark)
1.5 cups of water/chicken stock
Marinated chicken

Heat oil in casserole dish or large heavy based pot, add cummin, cinnamon and cardarmom pods and fry for 1 minute until fragrant taking care not to burn spices

Add chicken mixture to pot and simmer, stirring so it does not stick to bottom until chicken is sealed

Add 1 cup of water, cover pot with lid and simmer slowly for 25 minutes checking that the mixture isn’t sticking – add a bit more water if necessary. You want a fairly dry resulting mixture as the base for the briyani.

Skim the excess oil off as you go.

After 25 minutes, remove chicken from heat and set aside.

Step 7: Assembly

Handful of Fresh torn Mint leaves
50 g butter
Handful of chopped Coriander
1 cup of water

Prepared Ingredients:
Cooked chicken
Partially cooked potatoes
Hard boiled eggs
Lentils
Par-boiled eggs
Fried Onions
 

Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius

In a large casserole or crock pot begin to assemble the layered briyani:

Place 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on the bottom of the casserole pan

Sprinkle bottom with 1-2 handfuls of lentils

Add the chicken mixture over the lentils using a slotted spoon to minimise the amount of liquid from the cooked chicken that this transferred to the briyani

Add a layer of lentils on top of the chicken, then a layer of rice (3/4 cup), sprinkle a few mint leaves over the rice

Place potatoes and eggs over this layer and sprinkle a few mint leaves over the potatoes and eggs

Place rest of rice over the potatoes and eggs and sprinkle with some water.

Cover the pot with foil to “to seal” the mixture then place lid on top of foil

Place in oven for 30 minutes, then push small knobs of butter into the rice at intervals, sprinkle with more water if rice on the top is drying out. You can check the progress of the cooking of the potatoes by inserting a long spoon vertically into mixture and carefully removing a sample of the dish. The rice and potatoes are the best to sample to determine how much longer you need to cook the briyani – I generally find it will require another 30 minutes at least.

After a total of one hour, check on the briyani again and add the reserved fried onions over the top of the rice and place back in oven for 10-15 minutes. Then remove the briyani from the oven and allow to rest for at least half and hour before serving.

To serve, dish out onto a platter ensuring there is a representation of all the different ingredients, sprinkle with chopped mint or coriander leaves.

Serve with accompaniments such as Indian Pickles,  Grapes Apple Mint Raita, Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney, Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt and Red Lentil Tarka Dhal  .

Shopping List

Here’s the list of ingredients to use for the Durban Style Chicken Briyani recipe:

  • 1.5 kg chicken – 3-4 thigh cutlets with bone and skin and 4 thigh fillets
  • 2 cans brown lentils
  • Tub of plain yoghurt
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2.5 cups of Basmati rice
  • 1-2 cups Chicken stock (or water)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 150g butter
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Curry Leaves
  • Coriander
  • Mint
  • Chilli Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Green Cardamom pods
  • Cinnamon bark (available at Indian Grocers) or quills
  • Salt

Spicy Prawn Rice with carrots, peas and mushrooms

This is a delicious combination of ingredients that is lovely as a dish on its own with a yoghurt raita and salad, or served alongside  grilled chicken or lamb. It’s like an Indian risotto but you don’t have to stand over it stirring!  Perfect for entertaining as it can be made ahead of time – it’s even better the day after! It’s also great for a shared spread or picnic as it can be served at room temperature.

You just need to allow prep time as there a few steps prior to assembling the dish and cooking in the oven. You can also leave out or reduce the chilli powder and green chillies to make it less spicy.

Prep time: 30 minutes  Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

500g green prawns shelled and deveined
1.5-2 cups basmati rice
2 medium carrots roughly diced
350 grams of button mushrooms roughly diced
1/2 cup of peas
2 large onions sliced in rings
150 grams of butter for frying prawns
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil for frying prawns
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cummin powder
1 stalk of curry leaves
stick of cinnamon
4 cardamom pods(optional)
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
4 large mild green chillies chopped
2 teaspoons crushed ginger and garlic paste
1 teaspoons salt

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius

Place peeled and deveined prawns in a bowl and add chilli powder, turmeric powder and cummin powder. Mix through and leave aside

Par boil rice for 10 minutes in salted water. until half cooked, par boil diced carrots seperately in salted water – strain rice and carrots and set aside

Slice onions into rings and chop up green chillies into thin rings

Heat oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry prawns until just turning pink, remove prawns from oil and set aside

In same oil and pan, add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, cardamom pods, and curry leaves and fry gently for a minute or two

Add onions, green chillies and ginger garlic paste and fry gently until onions are transparent stirring from time to time, to avoid sticking to pan – remove onion mixture from oil and put into a deep casserole dish or pot with lid that can fit all the ingredients

Add in rice, prawns, carrots, peas, mushrooms to onion mixture and mix through so ingredients are evenly distributed

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 3/4 cup of water and pour over rice mixture
Cover with lid and place in oven for one hour or until rice is fluffy and moisture has evaporated. Sit for at least 15 minutes before serving

Delicious just on it’s own with yoghurt and a green salad or as a side with grilled chicken or lamb

Fish Briyani with Tomato Chutney & Turmeric Rice

This Fish Briyani is based on a recipe from my Aunty Vimala who inspired my interest in cooking when I was young. I can still vividly recall the enticing smells of spices cooking and the delicious flavour combinations that came from her kitchen. I wrote this recipe down, taking notes as she made it, when I last visited South Africa in 1997.

The spicy tomato chutney, fresh herbs, sweet caramelised onions and lightly fried fish combine to create a more-ish, layered fish dish that is delicious on its own or with youghurt, mango or mint chutney and pickles to the side.

This is a lovely dish to serve as part of a buffet lunch or dinner as it is actually nicer warm, rather than piping hot, and even better the next day.

Don’t put off by the number of steps and spices, it really is a matter of making each of the components seperately and then combining into the completed layered dish. Once you’ve done the prep it’s just a matter of putting it in the oven and because it can be prepared even a day ahead and reheated in the microwave it is excellent for entertaining.

Preparation time: 30-35 minutes Cooking time: 60 minutes
Ingredients:

700g firm white boneless fish fillets like snapper or flathead, cut into medium size pieces (I used small flathead fillets in this recipe)
1 1/4 cups basmati rice par-boiled with 1/4 tspn turmeric to make it golden in colour

2 medium size brown onions sliced thinly
3 medium size ripe tomatoes chopped
5 cloves garlic chopped roughly
Large Knob (equal to amount of garlic)of ginger peeled
2 sprigs of curry leaves
2-4 small green chillies chopped finely
4 tablespoons coriander leaves and same amount of mint leaves chopped
1.5 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons or so vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of butter

Dry Spices – (see quantities in method below)
Chilli powder, cummin powder, turmeric, fennel powder, cinnamon sticks, cummin seeds, fennel seeds, salt, sugar

Method:

1. Crush ginger and garlic together in a mortar and pestle.

image
Marinating fish fillets for briyani

2. Marinate fish fillets, for half an hour, at least with 1/2 tspn chilli powder, 1/2 tspn turmeric, 1/2 tspn cummin powder, 1/4 tspn fennel powder, 1/2 tspn crushed ginger and garlic, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.

3. Par boil basmati rice with 1/4 tspn turmeric, strain and set aside. Make sure rice is only half cooked or it will turn gluggy when cooked in oven.

image
Par boiled basmati rice cooked with turmeric

4. Make tomato chutney: Heat oil over medium heat in heavy based pot, add 1-2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tspn cummin seeds, 1 tspn fennel seeds, curry leaves from both sprigs and fry until fragrant; add 3/4 of the sliced onions and fry gently until translucent, add 1/2 tspn chilli powder, 1/2 tspoon fennel powder, 1/2 tspn turmeric powder, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tsp. sugar, add green chillies and rest of the ginger and garlic and sautée gently for 1 minute being careful not to burn spices, add tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmer for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes degenerate and stock evaporates and oil starts to reappear. The resulting chutneys should be moist but not watery. Taste to see if extra salt is needed.

5. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius

5. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in pan and fry fish fillets for 1 minute on each side to “seal” – remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

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Lightly fried “sealed” fish fillets

6. Chop coriander and mint roughly

7. Assembly: coat medium size ovenproof dish with 1 tablespoon of oil, put a thin layer of rice on the bottom, put a thin layer of tomato chutney over rice(remove cinnamon sticks from chutney), sprinkle 1/2 of fresh herbs over the tomato chutney, place all the fish gently on top of the chutney, put remaining chutney over fish trying to spread evenly across dish, sprinkle remaining mint and coriander on fish, add remaining rice to cover fish. Using a spoon sprinkle 1/4 cup of stock over rice. Cover dish with foil or lid and place in oven for 35-40 minutes. Check on dish to add more stock if rice is drying out too much. Ten minutes before the end, add little “dollops” of butter across surface of rice, cover again before placing in oven for last ten minutes.

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Layer rice, chutney, fresh herbs and fish

8. Fry remaining sliced onion in oil or butter until golden brown and lightly caramelised, drain on paper towel.

9. Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with onion and herbs for coriander and mint for garnish. Allow to rest for 10-30 minutes.

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Fish Briyani garnished with fried onions and fresh coriander and mint

10. Serve as a feature dish in a buffet with yoghurt raita, salads, pickles and chutneys of your choice.

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Fish Briyani with tomato chutney and turmeric rice

Serves 3-4 depending on size of serves