Pilau Rice

Not sure how “authentic” this Pilau Rice is but it works pretty well. Based on a BBC recipe.
If you own a microwave this is great to do a couple of hours in advance and microwave to reheat.
The pilau rice really is best if it sits warm for 20-30 minutes after initial cooking to allow the flavours to mingle and the grains to be fully rehydrated.

Ingredients

  • 450g basmati rice (please don’t use “easy cook” rice)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • large knob butter, plus extra to serve
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked to allow the flavour of the seeds to escape
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • decent pinch saffron threads
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 600ml vegetable stock or water (I’ve used water and it is fine)
  • salt

Method

  1. To make sure you get lovely fluffy rice, wash it in several changes of cold water, then leave to soak for about 30 minutes in fresh cold water. If you don’t have time for this, place in a sieve and wash under the cold tap for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the onion in the butter for around 10-15 minutes until nicely softened but not browned. Add the spices, saffron and bay leaves and cook for a minute or so. The spices will give a fragrant flavour to the rice.
  3. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated in the butter before stirring in the stock or water and salt. Bring to the boil and then cover with a tight-fitting lid at the gentlest simmer you can manage.  Keep the heat down low and leave to cook for 10 minutes before turning off the heat. Don’t remove the lid; just leave the rice to continue cooking in the pan for about 5 minutes until you’re ready to serve. Or sit it to the side with the lid on until you are ready to reheat. (Reheating is most easily done in a microwave. I use a ceramic serving bowl and reheat in that dish, which I then use for serving.)
  4. The rice should have absorbed all the water and will just need fluffing up with a fork. Add a knob of cold butter before serving.

Thick Fluffy Pancakes

These work brilliantly. Sometimes called American style pancakes, but they are very like the pancakes my granny made, I just make them a bit larger.

Ingredients

  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 130ml milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp melted butter (allowed to cool slightly), plus extra for cooking

Method

  1. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Put the wet (milk and egg) ingredients, except the butter in a jug, and whisk quickly with a fork to mix.
  3. Warm a frying pan with a little melted butter.  You will need to top up with a small amount of butter after each pancake.
  4. Add the wet to the dry and put the melted butter on top. Whisk immediately to make a thickish batter.
  5. (Flours and egg sizes vary. If it’s too runny you will get thin pancakes. But it needs to be liquid enough to spread out a bit in the pan. It can be made dryer by adding a couple of spoons of flour if needed, or a splash of milk if too thick. But the measures given work for most flours.)
  6. You can start cooking immediately. Make a small test pancake. The first one is never right but lets you get the temperature of the pan right. It’s the cook’s treat.
  7. You know when a pancake is ready to flip when you see bubbles appearing on the surface of the batter and the first ones are just beginning to burst. Flip it over. If it’s too dark on the cooked side your pan is too hot.
 Make a small batch of pancakes and keep them warm in a warm oven at about 50C till you are ready to serve. They don’t really keep long so need to be eaten when the batch is ready. This won’t be difficult.

Variants

  • When you add a pancake to the pan to cook drop some fruit into the soft top – raspberry, blueberry etc. This will warm and cook nicely with the pancake. (If you have frozen it’s best to defrost before using. With blueberries, I find submerging them in a small bowl of water is usually enough to hurry up the defrosting. Drain them before adding to the pancake.)
These make great pancakes to serve with thin oven roasted streaky bacon, maple syrup and soft poached eggs.

Indian Egg Roast

This Egg Roast isn’t really a roast at all. The eggs are actually boiled and served in a delicious tomato based curry sauce.

Simple and delicious, and also vegetarian. Boil the eggs as “hard-boiled” as you prefer. 10 minutes gives them fully hard, and 8 minutes with some orange softness to the yolk.
Egg Roast is also a good make-ahead recipe. The eggs just need to be reheated in the prepared sauce just before serving.
Based on a Rick Stein recipe from his excellent book on India.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or veg oil if you don’t have
  • 10-12 fresh curry leaves (I keep a plant in the kitchen)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 250g white onions, sliced
  • 2 dried Kashmiri chillies, broken into pieces, seeds included
  • A thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri mirch (adjust this up or down depending on how fiery you enjoy your curry)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 400g passata (with no added salt/garlic/herbs)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Coriander for garnish

Method

  1. Gently add the eggs to a pan of boiling water and let them cook for about 10 minutes, on the gentlest simmer
  2. When the eggs are ready sit the pot under a running cold tap to cool the eggs and stop them cooking further.
  3. Heat the oil in a suitable pan. When it’s medium hot add the curry leaves and fennel seeds for about 30 seconds toast them.
  4. Quickly add the onions and cook them for about 10 minutes until they are soft and golden.
  5. Add the dried chillies, ginger and garlic and fry them for 3 minutes
  6. Now add the dried spices and fry them, stirring to avoid catching, for about 30 seconds to incorporate
  7. Add the passata and salt and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. When you are close to serving, add the eggs to the sauce and simmer gently to allow them to heat up again, this will probably take about 5 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve.
Serve the egg roast with rice or a simple bread like chapati.

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is always a winner. And the cake stays moist for a few days if covered. The lemon icing really lifts it.
Sometimes this recipe is called a passion cake. Call it what you like – it’s still delicious.

Ingredients

  • 275g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g grated carrots
  • 175ml vegetable oil or melted butter, vegetable oil is fine.

Icing

  • 75g butter
  • 75g soft cream cheese
  • 175-200g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest and half the juice of a lemon

Method

  1. Put the oven on at 170C fan.
  2. Prepare a cake tin. I use one about 9 inches/22cm round and with a removable side/base which makes taking the cake out much easier.
  3. Put all the dry ingredients in a big bowl, then add the wet, and mix together well with a wooden spoon until you have a batter.
  4. Put the batter in the tin and place in the oven for about 1 hour. Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean the centre is cooked. If needed, give it another few minutes. Once cooked place on a rack to cool before removing the tin.
  5. To make the icing beat all the ingredients together until creamed. If it’s too wet just add some more icing sugar. The volume of lemon juice can vary a bit.
  6. Once the carrot cake is completely cooled cut it horizontally. Now ice the middle and the top. Re-assemble and try to resist eating it. Impossible.