If someone were to closely examine my behaviour in the kitchen, they would find that I have an excessively causal approach to rice. It is without a doubt the centre of my daily fix-up meal strategy and I panic when leftovers are not waiting patiently for me in the refrigerator the next day. Pulao with leftover mixed bhaji, Khichdi with an old dal and a new tadka, Nasi Goreng with the suspicious meat you forgot about in the deep-freeze; we’ve all been there. Better a refurbished jambalaya or this chocolate cake, rice will never go to waste.
These two new recipes are instant favourites. They don’t glean over the details too much and come together in under 30 minutes if you’re prepped. Early morning tiffin fillers will thank me for the Jamaican-style Rajma Pulao or Caribbean rice and peas because not only is it the perfect mix of sweet, spicy and herby, but you can also make it a day in advance. An herby coconut rice, we add spicy chillies and chopped aam papad to it, then finish with a squeeze of lime. Sounds strange? You have to taste it to believe it!
The second recipe is me cashing in on the Pokémon Go craze and a hot food trend by way of my Prawn Poke Bowl. It’s pronounced Po-Kay and means chunks in Hawaiian. I don’t know what water-type Pokémon is closest to a prawn, otherwise I’d have named it after that. A bowl of poke in Hawaii, at least the modern Japanese varieties, will fetch you cubed and marinated raw ahi tuna served over a sizeable portion of sushi rice. The more traditional poke comes with a native sea algae called limo and candlenuts or kukui. Today there is no one generally agreed upon style of making poke- it doesn’t even have to be seafood and can be raw or cooked.
Since I’m not sure I want to invest in sushi-grade tuna or sushi rice for a leftover meal, I went with some prawns and leftover short grain rice instead. The chilli-soy-sesame marinade tastes delicious once it sits with the prawn, and I serve this bowl with avocados, chopped scallions, rice and a spicy mayo. I had this tiny bottle of Shichimi Togarashi catching dust in my spicy cupboard, so I used it to make a Togarashi mayo, but some store-bought chilli mayo works too. I’ve made it three times already, and I also threw in some crunchy sheets of nori in there once. Dare I say, it tasted even better than sushi. Now go get your chopsticks ready!
Jamaican-style Rice and Beans (serves 4)
Note: If there’s any left the next day, turn it into a burrito with guac, hung yoghurt and salsa. Also, if you were wondering where I got the pretty swan-spangled tumbler from, it’s from India Circus. I have my eye on this patterned Psych Pleasures Tumbler next.
Coconut Milk 200ml
Basmati Rice 150g
Red Kidney Beans 200g, soaked overnight
Aam Papad 2 squares
Thyme 2 sprigs
Birds-eye Chilli 1
Olive Oil 50ml
Cider Vinegar 1 tbsp
Sugar 1/4 tsp
Red Onion 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Roasted Peanuts 100g (you can sub these for any nuts of your choice)
Chives 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Coriander 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Lime juice of 1 small or 1/2 of big-sized
Start by pressure cooking the red kidney beans with water which should top the beans by about 2 inches. Cook for 15 minutes of 3-4 whistles. Take it off the heat and let the pressure drop. Once the cooker has opened, drain the water and keep the beans aside till it is time to use them.
Now, in a medium-sized pan with a lid, pour in the coconut milk, the rice, and about a cup of water. Add to this the dried mango, thyme and the chilli. Cover this and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and cook for 15 more minutes or until he rice has absorbed all the water. Take it off the heat and let the rice steam, covered for a few more minutes.
Meanwhile make the dressing by stirring together the olive oil, cider vinegar, sugar, red onions and the salt. Fluff up the rice once it has opened and stir in the beans, then top with the dressing. Mix well. Add the peanuts, chopped fresh herbs and top with the lime juice. Season to taste once again and serve.
Prawn Poke Bowl (serves 4)
Note: Leftovers, if any, go into a stir-fry.
Short-grain brown or white rice 3-4 cups, cooked
Prawns medium-sized 600g, cleaned and de-veined (you can also buy frozen, if you’re queasy about buying seafood during the monsoons)
Light soy sauce 3 tbsp (I use Sil)
Toasted Sesame Oil 2 tsp
Rice vinegar 1 tbsp
Ginger 1 tsp, freshly grated
Garlic 1 tsp, freshly grated
Salt to taste
Sambal Oelek Sauce 1 tbsp
Spring Onions 2, white and green parts chopped (I find recipes where they alienate one of the two to be quite annoying. Use the whole damn thing damn it!)
Avocados 2, ripe
Store-bought chilli mayo 4 tbsp
optional toppings: sesame seeds, chopped coriander, sheets of crunchy nori. For the Togarashi mayo, 4 tbsp mayo plus 1 tsp shichimi togarashi should do the trick.
Bring a heavy pot of water to a boil and add salt to it. Nomad the prawns to this water and let it boil for 1-2 minutes or till they curl. Fish them out immediately. We want them to still retain some amount of crunch.
Make the dressing by stirring together the light soy, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, salt, chilli paste and spring onions. Add this to the prawns, stir, and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring out bowls and fill them with a bed of rice. Slice the avocados and top the rice with the chunks. Next, spoon out the prawns, top with some more spring onions, top with a dollop of chilli mayo and have a ‘gotta eat em all’ moment.