Summer is over, back to school and juggling everything…

…so start the new term with a post and the intention to be more pro-active.  The after school clubs start and this one has something on one night, the other has something on another which clashes with swimming and it is the same night that one of the adults has to work late.  It is easy to reach for the ready meals – everyone zapping something in the microwave or shoving something ready prepared in the oven.

But there are quick things that can be prepared that people can heat up as they need it.  I have discovered a one pot rice dish recipe in Anjum Anand’s recipe book called Masharatran rice and I have adapted it to make a Chinese version and a Mediterranean version using whatever veg I have, spicing it up here and there with different spices.  Using Basmati rice, once the water is added it takes just 9 minutes once it has come to the boil.  It then reheats really nicely – in fact I think it is always better lunchtime the next day.

The original recipe is from Anjum Anand’s book “Anjum’s New Indian” – Maharashtran One Pot Rice (serves 4)

3 tbsps vegetable oil
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
20 curry leaves (if available dried & chopped, this should be roughly 2 tsps)
4 cloves of garlic, crushedr
2 small chopped onions
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tsps garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 – 2 tbsps desiccated coconut
200g rice, rinsed, drained & patted dry
400ml of water
4 tbsps cashew nuts, lightly roasted
2 carrots, peeled & grated
100g cauliflower, cut into really small florets
a couple of handfuls of frozen peas
lemon juice to taste
a couple of handfuls of fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan.  Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and when spluttering, stir in the curry leaves, followed by the onion and garlic.  Cook until the onion is golden.
2.  Now add the ginger, chilli, garam masala and coconut as well as a little salt and 2 tbsps of water.  Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until the excess liquid has evaporated.
3.  Add the uncooked washed rice, vegetables and cashew nuts and stir fry for 2 mins.
4.  Pour in the water, bring to the boil and cover.  Once boiling, reduce the heat right down and cook undisturbed for 8 – 10 minutes.
5.  Turn off the heat and remove the lid, allowing the rest moisture to evaporate.
6.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, a little lemon juice and finally using a fork stir in the fresh coriander/cilantro, fluffing up the rice as you go along.

You can add paneer or left over chicken or other meat and the vegetables are up to you to mess around with – whatever is in the fridge.  A blob of yoghurt or raita goes really well and I have to say I go heavy handed with the coriander!

Now, here’s the fun bit!!  Make it Chinese!  Skip the curry leaves, garam masala, coconut, mustard and cumin seeds.  Instead, use plenty of ginger and garlic, Chinese 5 spice, keep the cashew nuts, change the veg if you want – I like finely chopped peppers and some baby corn in there.  If you like spicy then add chilli and serve it with soy sauce.  For a more Indonesian nasi goreng style you could use kecap manis and top it with a fried or poached egg.  You could add a beaten egg at the end and stir through while on the heat for a egg fried rice style dish.  Again you could add chicken or prawns, be creative.  I like doing Chinese rice like this as opposed to frying it as I always end up with a nightmare wok to clean!  I must be doing something wrong but as you are not frying it you use less oil with this recipe.  This recipe too seems even better the next day.

A more Mediterranean take on it uses olive oil, lots of basil, garlic, grated courgette, peppers, peas, stock as opposed to water as in the other recipes and then add some grated Parmesan or strong Cheddar to finish.  It could be served with garlic bread.  It is a quick version of risotto, less time and less stirring.

The bonus is that the kids seem to like these rice dishes provided there is no ‘tingle’ so for a bit of spice I have some sweet chilli sauce to hand.

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