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

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