Monday, 10 November 2014

Lemon pilau rice

Tim Rice, as part of the award-winning writing team with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was the one that didn't resemble Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars and the least tax-averse and also the one that wrote the words. He wrote lyrics for Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar. He's got fuck all to do with this recipe, other than being called Rice.

Cooking rice can be a regal pain in the arse to get right. You can use loads of water and drain it, but lose all the flavour of the tasty things you put in. The better way is to use just the right amount of water that gets soaked up and keeps all the tasty stuff on the rice, but it's hard to get the balance right between over-cooking and under-cooking.The proportion of water and rice in this recipe just about hits the right balance, though rice does vary, depending on the type and even between different batches of the same type.

1 mug* of basmati rice
1 1/3 mugs of water 
juice and zest of 1 lemon
5 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1 bay leaf
5cm stick of cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 star of anise
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
Yeah, yeah. It's another picture of some spices. It's quite pretty. Get the fuck over it
From the top: lemon zest, bay leaf, fennel seeds, cinnamon, tumeric, star anise, cardamoms, cloves and salt in the middle

*The volume of water you need depends on the volume of rice you're using so it's easier to use the same container to measure both instead of weighing the rice

First it's a good idea to wash the rice to make it less stodgy when it's finished. Pour the rice into a big pan and fill the pan with water. Give it a swirl and drain out the water. Do this three more times, pouring the rice out into a sieve the final time.

Pour the oil into a heavy based pan and heat. Add the lemon zest and the spices and gently fry for a minute. Add the rinsed rice and stir until the all the rice grains look yellow. Add the water plus the lemon juice.

Heat gently until it boils then immediately turn down the heat as low as possible and cover tightly with the lid. Leave it for 20 minutes then turn off the heat completely.

When ready to serve, fluff up the rice. Before you do that though, it's not a bad idea to get rid of the whole spices that have floated to the top of the cooking rice. Nothing spoils a good curry more than lacerating the inside of your cheek on a sharp piece of cinnamon bark.

It depends on how big the mug is, but this makes plenty for two adults.

Yes, it's another blurred picture. I've got a crap phone but the rice does look nice and golden


If you've done this right, the rice should be nice and fluffy and neither a sloppy, stodgy mess (overcooked) or like small pieces of grit (undercooked). If there is any left, it can be stored in the fridge for a day or frozen for longer, once it's cooled. When you do reheat it, make sure it's hotter than a bombardier beetle's arse after participating in a chilli eating competition the day before to kill off any nasty bugs. If it is a sloppy mess, it will be even worse the next day so better to throw it out, as nobody likes sloppy seconds.

Admit it, you never get phrases like "sloppy seconds" in any of Rick Stein's programmes

Monday, 3 November 2014

Butternut squash curry

Despite resembling a large, cream-coloured sex toy, the butternut squash is one of the most delicious vegetables you can get and it makes fucking great curries. This also means that, yes, I'm doing another vegetable dish. The Indian subcontinent provides some of the absolute best vegetarian cuisine in the world, which isn't too surprising given it's the place that Buddhism started. If there was stuff like this to eat all the time I could happily remain vegetarian for the rest of my life. Well, almost, until I start jonesing for pork scratchings, a juicy steak or even just some roast chicken flavoured crisps because sometimes a tub of fucking dhal just won't cut it.


Spices for the curry
Clockwise from the leaf: Bay, cloves, cardamom, onion seeds, black pepper, coriander, mustard seed, salt, cinnamon and star anise in the middle

2 tbsp vegetables oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 star of whole anise
1 piece of cinnamon, about 4 cm
4 green cardamon pods
4 cloves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp onion seeds
1 bayleaf
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
half a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into big (2-4 cm) chunks
1 green pepper, in 1-2 cm dice
150 ml water
2tsp tomato puree

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and spices and stir fry until the onion is soft (5-10 minutes). Throw in the pepper and squash and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the water and tomato puree, cover and leave the curry to stew for 30-60 minutes, whenever the squash is tender.

This makes enough for two adults as an accompaniment, leaving enough for a lunch the next day. Serve it with rice and/or Indian bread, on its own or with other curries (like my profanity-laced chicken tikka curry)

Nothing says dinner like a pan full of curry, even a crap, blurred picture of one

I did the recipe with butternut squash, but any other pumpkin-like vegetables will work, including pumpkin itself. Just the thing if you get pissed off with the enormous fucking mountain of pumpkin flesh you end up with at Hallowe'en when carving a lantern.

You would be right to anticipate that a recipe I do sometime following Hallowe'en will be some shit with pumpkin in it for this exact reason. Hey, this is Sweary Chef, not Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith or Genghis fucking Ramsay. I do the recipes I have the ingredients for at the time, take shit pictures on my phone then write them up, usually libelling, or else being generally unpleasant about other, more accomplished people in the process. I'm basically Fanny Cradock with a penis.