main dishes, grains, vegetables & sides

rice pilaf with a crunchy crust

23rd July 2021

I posted a similar pilaf recipe a while back; this version is easier, quicker and uses the option of olive oil, or if you prefer, replace it with ghee. I change the vegetables to what I have in the garden, sometimes using thinly sliced potatoes, fennel, zucchini or freshly picked sweet peas. It is easy to swap the vegetables around. If the season or garden is overgrown with parsley, coriander or similar soft herbs, they can be used instead.

Serve with a crisp garden green salad and a bowl of tahini.

There are a few steps in achieving the success of this dish; the crispy golden bottom makes it worth it!

  • Washing the rice to rid it of any surface starch, which might make it sticky.
  • Boiling the rice for 8 minutes in boiling water, then draining and allowing it to steam dry for a few minutes.
  • Cover with a cloth, as well as a lid, to protect it from the drops of condensation as it steams.
  • Achieving “the golden crusty bottom” at the bottom of the pot by cooking it over low heat for an extended period.

It is recommended to use a non-stick pot. For the recipe, I use a cast-iron 10-inch (24cm) pot. Also, try to use a pot with a flat bottom and one large enough to give the rice plenty of room to expand. If your pot is too small, the rice will clump together. If you are using a pan, make sure you have a lid that will tightly fit.

rice pilaf with a crunchy crust

Serves 3

Preparation 20 minutes

Cooking 45 minutes

ingredients

1 cup/200g white basmati rice

1 medium/140g carrot

1 medium/160g medium fennel

2 medium/125g potatoes

1 large bunch/30g each fresh dill and coriander

6 Tbsp/60g olive oil or ghee – divided 

1 tsp fine rock salt – divided 

½ tsp freshly ground pepper – divided 

1 tsp turmeric powder – divided 

prepare the rice

1.  Wash the rice and drain. Repeat three more times to flush out all the excess starch (this helps the rice be fluffy with nice separate grains when cooked). Drain and set aside.

2.  Fill a medium saucepan (with a lid that fits.) Bring the water to a vigorous boil and cook the rice for exactly 8 minutes, starting the timer from the moment the rice enters the pot. Drain in a colander and let sit for 5 minutes or so to steam dry.

prepare the vegetables and herbs

3.  Finely slice the vegetable into 2mm thick slices and set aside. Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of the herbs, and mix the herbs together and set aside. 

assemble and cook the pilaf 

4.  Return the empty pan to the stove, add half of the oil.

5.  Split the pile of herbs in two – setting aside a handful of herbs for garnish.

6.  Layer half of the vegetables in the bottom of the pan and half of the herbs for use now.  Sprinkle over half of the salt, pepper and turmeric. Add one-third of the rice over the top. Do not mix. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, then the next third of the rice and the other half of the herbs. Sprinkle the remaining salt, pepper and turmeric. Finish with the last third of rice. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top.

7.  Cover the pot with a tea towel, then place the lid firmly on top, folding the corners of the tea towel over the top so that they don’t catch fire. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes (#7 setting on an electric stove), then place the pot on the lowest heat you can manage (#2 setting on an electric stove) and continue cooking for another 40-45 minutes.

8.  When the rice is ready, gently mix the reserved herbs and pile it all onto a good wide platter or bowl. Scrape up the crisp rice at the bottom of the pot and tuck it into the pile of rice shards – it’s delicious. It is optional to sprinkle with lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice – taste and season with salt and a few rounds of pepper. 

a quick way with courgettes (zucchinis)

29th September 2020

“This is very useful when you need a vegetable in a hurry: you cut them in short pieces and toss them in a pan of hot olive oil, then leave them to tender, when they are golden at the edges, season with salt and pepper and lemon juice.”

Serve them alongside your favourite pasta dish, pongal, dal, rice, over sourdough bread or as croutons like in this tomato soup.

a quick way with courgettes

Inspired from Tender by Nigel Slater

Preparation 10 minutes

Serves 2 – 3, as a side dish

ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 medium courgettes (zucchinis), cut into short diagonal pieces

salt and pepper, to season

zest and juice of a lemon

scattering of hand-torn herbs

preparation

1. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the courgettes, zest of one lemon and season well with salt and pepper.

2. Toss in the pan, for 5 minutes, until golden around the edges.

3. Stir in a handful of finely chopped herbs; fennel, coriander, parsley and thyme. Season again with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve immediately.

steamed green beans

19th August 2020

Lately, I been working in the garden in the mornings. I found that the sun is softer, and the areas that need work are in the shadier parts. Early this morning, I picked some green beans to go along with Monday’s Pepper Rasam. Later that morning, I returned to the garden and started pottering around, feeding the plants with compost, and staking up a few bean bushes – to my surprise, despite thinking I had picked all the beans earlier, I found myself walking away with another handful. The thing with beans, and even cucumbers to a lesser extent, is that you really need time and patience when harvesting them. There is much happiness to be had in rummaging through the leaves in search of their elegant, dangling pods. When you think you have picked them all, there’s still more hiding behind their foliage. It’s important to approach the plant from different angles and heights, squatting down to their level; even then, you can still miss a few…

I planted a few varieties of beans this season: romano pole bean, small french finger bush beans, and a long climbing snake bean. And for the first time, I planted another climbing variety in a pot on our balcony so that it can climb up the iron gate outside our kitchen door.

I have been staggering the sowing for a continuous supply, late May-early June, then another crop in July, and again in the last week of July. The hot season seems to come later each year, enabling another harvest before the cooler weather hits by early November.

The better quality and fresher the beans, the better tasting this recipe. Serve with pepper rasam, simple dal or Pongal.

steamed green beans

Steaming beans, rather than boiling help keep their colour and flavour.

Preparation 10 minutes

Serves 3

ingredients

350g green beans

2 Tbsp ghee

freshly ground pepper

Himalayan salt

preparation

1. Wash the beans and trim the ends. Leave them whole or cut in half.

2. Set a steaming basket in a medium saucepan filled with 1 – 2 inches water, once boiling simmer over high heat for 5 – 7 minutes, depending on how tender or crisp you like them.

3. Discard the water in the saucepan.  Add the beans and ghee, season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Serve and enjoy!

other recipes using green beans

toor dal, mung beans, green bean and dill palya

vegetable bath

green bean palya

simple yellow dal with green beans and cabbage

summer garden palya

moong dal sambar with green beans

moong dal with garden greens

carrot and green bean rasam

green moong dal with Indian spices

a buttery herbed pilaf

bisi bele bath

Kristin’s Moroccan stew

gentle Indian spiced vegetable stew

saffron celery rice

25th April 2020

This is a modified rice dish that Donna posted years ago and because I make it often I thought I would revisit and repost it. It is soothing on the digestive system and soft on the eyes with its pale yellow saffron hue. Serve it with roasted vegetables and an avocado-yoghurt sauce. It also goes nicely with a simple tovve and vegetable palya.

Saffron is considered sattvic, balancing all three doshas. One flower bears three stigmas, which are plucked and dried. It contains a carotenoid called crocin, which imparts a golden-yellow hue to dishes.

“Generosity is a noble quality. It opens the mind and heart to appreciate the universe and all that it encompasses.” ~ The Sacred Tradition of Yoga by Dr Shankaranaranaya Jois.

saffron celery rice

preparation 25 minutes

serves 3 – 4

ingredients 

1 cup white basmati rice

2 cups hot water/vegetable stock

two pinches saffron threads (15 threads)

2 Tbsp ghee

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

½ tsp fine rock salt

handful coriander, finely chopped

zest and juice of ½ lemon

to serve

roasted vegetables

spicy avocado-yoghurt puree

preparation 

1.  Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, pour into a sieve to drain.

2.  Place the saffron threads in the hot water to steep for 5 minutes.

3.  In a heavy-based pan, heat ghee, then fry the celery, bay leaf and salt; when soft, add rice and stir to coat grains in ghee.

4.  Pour in ¼ cup saffron water and stir. When almost evaporated, add remaining saffron water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer, uncovered for 8 – 10 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

5.  Turn off heat, and cover with a tea towel between the lid – set aside undisturbed for further 10 – 15 minutes.

6.  Add coriander, lemon zest, juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

variation

  • A simple variation, omit the celery,  add 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds and 8 curry leaves, fry in ghee. Not necessary to add the lemon and fresh coriander.

Donna’s Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

13th August 2019

On this day 10 years ago, Donna and I posted our first combined post on Goodnessis’, and with this in mind, we felt it was appropriate to share another, considering that we are currently spending family time together in Australia. As we live on opposite sides of the world, we always commit to meet once a year with our parents in Australia’s Winter on Hamilton Island. Each night, Donna and I cook and prepare a meal together, these Hasselback sweet potatoes was one of those delicious meals!

Donna first initiated this blog as a way for us to keep in contact. As with most areas of life, for growth to occur, things need to evolve, and due to exploring other pursuits, Donna stepped away from contributing and I continued. For me, this blog has given so much and has become a wonderful way to share this way of life and recipes with like-minded well-wishers.

This post is a heartfelt THANK YOU to Donna!  I am forever grateful that we began this journey, as I am not sure this blog would have taken birth without her initial inspiration.

Hasselback sweet potatoes

Preparation – 1 hour

Serves 6

ingredients

3 large/6 small sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp ghee/extra virgin olive oil, melted

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped 

sea salt & cracked pepper

to serve

spicy avocado yoghurt puree

beetroot, apple, fennel, sesame seeded salad with ginger lemon dressing

preparation

1.  Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper.

2.  Place sweet potato in between 2 wooden spoons. Holding the spoons and the potato, make thin slices across the top of the potato. The spoons prevent cutting all the way through. Repeat with all sweet potatoes.

3.  Place each sweet potato on the lined tray. Gently fan out the potatoes so the slices are revealed.

4.  Drizzle ghee over the potatoes, aiming for a little to drip between the slices, and then also brush tops with ghee.

5.  Sprinkle the rosemary over the top of each. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes, then remove foil and roast for a further 15-20 minutes, or until edges are crispy/charred, depending on how you like them.

sandwich night with sesame-tempeh, charred fennel & pepper rings

3rd October 2018

Usually, sandwich night falls on Friday when it is just the three of us and I have made a fresh loaf of challah bread. The meal comes together in half an hour and is so delicious and satisfying. Slices of homemade bread are brushed with strong English mustard, followed by a thick layer of vegan mayonnaise and filled with avocado salsa, green garden leaves, tamari-sesame coated slices of tempeh and charred fennel and red pepper rings.

sandwich night

Preparation – 30 minutes

Serves 3

for the fennel-pepper rings and charred tempeh 

1 small red and green bell pepper

1 large fennel

1 packet/200g tempeh

6 Tbsp oil/ghee

3 Tbsp sesame seeds

3 Tbsp tamari

for the sandwiches

slices of your favourite bread

strong English mustard

avocado with tomato, coriander salsa and mustard seeds

vegan mayonnaise

bitter salad leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

cook the vegetables and tempeh

1.  Slice the fennel and bell peppers into rounds and the tempeh into strips or rounds. (Depending on the shape of the tempeh you are using). Set aside

2.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Drizzle in a tablespoon of oil and cook the fennel rounds until charred around the edges. When sufficiently charred, scoop them out onto a large plate and repeat the same procedure with the red and green peppers – add to the same plate as the fennel.

3.  Lower the heat to medium and pour in the remaining oil, fry the tempeh until golden, flipping over and doing the same with the other side. Once all have been done (may need to do in two batches), return all the tempeh to the pan, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and saute, coating the tempeh with the seeds for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and drizzle the tamari over the tempeh. Stir a few times and scoop out onto the plate. Making sure you brush out all the seeds leftover in the pan over the charred peppers, fennel and tempeh.

to assemble the sandwiches

4.  Drizzle each slice of bread with olive oil, a swipe of mustard and spread a thick layer of mayonnaise, add a dollop of avocado salsa, and a layer of garden green leaves, a few slices of tempeh, a generous sprinkle of fennel and pepper rings and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy!

lasagna tart

11th September 2018

sunkissed and content…

A very decadent and comforting dish for a special occasion. A bit rich on its own but goes well as part of the main meal, accompanied by a simple rice dish and a variety of salads. The parmesan crust is divine, crunchy and flavourful.

lasagna tart

Preparation time  – 40 minutes

Baking – 15 minutes

Serves 6 – 8 or one 9-10 inch tart.

Recipe adapted from here. 

ingredients

2 medium/350g zucchini, sliced into very thin coins

¾ tsp fine-grain rock salt

tart crust

½ cup/75g unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup/70g whole wheat flour

½ cup/115g unsalted butter, well chilled + cut into small cubes

2 cups/100g loosely packed grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp fine-grain rock salt

2 Tbsp ice cold water

tomato sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp each of finely chopped fresh rosemary and oregano leaves

¾ tsp red pepper flakes

400g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped

½ tsp fine-grain rock salt

½ tsp brown sugar

 

1 cup/250g ricotta cheese

¼ cup small basil leaves

preparation

1.  Preheat your oven to 190C/375F. Oil a 10-inch tart pan and set aside.

prepare the zucchini

2.  Slice the zucchini using a mandoline or knife into 2mm slices. Place in a bowl, sprinkle over the salt and gently toss until evenly covered with salt. Transfer to a colander and let drain while you make the tart shell and tomato sauce.

make the tart crust

3.  Place both flours, butter cubes, parmesan and salt in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2 tablespoons of ice water. The dough should stick together when you pinch it with your fingers.

4.  Pour the dough into the tart pan. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working up towards the sides. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes. You can use this time to finely chop the tomatoes.

bake the tart crust

5.  Pull the tart out of the refrigerator and poke a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with baking paper and fill generously with pie weights (I used chickpeas). Bake for 15 minutes, pull the tart out of the oven and gently remove the baking paper containing the pie weights.

6.  Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

prepare the tomato sauce

7.  Stir the olive oil, red pepper flakes and finely chopped herbs in a saucepan, cook over medium-high heat until the herbs start to sizzle just a bit.

8.  Stir in the finely chopped tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cook the sauce down, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then stir in the salt and sugar, set aside.

to assemble the tart

9.  Use a spatula to spread half the ricotta cheese across the base of the tart shell. Then spoon half the tomato sauce over the ricotta and arrange half the zucchini in a single layer on top of the sauce. If your zucchinis are still quite wet, press them with a paper towel. Spoon the remaining ricotta over the zucchinis and push it around a bit with your fingers so that it forms a layer. Arrange another layer of zucchini and finish with the remaining sauce. You want the filling to nearly, but not quite fill the pan.

to bake the tart

10.  Place the tart on a rimmed baking sheet (in case you end up with an overflow) and bake for 40 minutes or until the tart is cooked through. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the top with fresh basil leaves.

slow cooked zucchinis with basil

4th September 2018

ZUCCHINI

This year I staggered my planting to have a continuous supply of zucchini throughout the summer, but I forgot how quickly they grow from seed to plant and now I have an endless supply.

Just when I think I have them under control, I venture out into the garden and miraculously there is another batch ready to be picked! I have been giving away a lot and trying many new recipes to use them up.

I have been returning to these zucchini fritters and recently sitting in my drafts is this lasagna tart recipe from 101 Cookbooks which I will make for my daughter before she returns to University.

I have also been making a sweet zucchini palya to accompany any dal or sambar.

In the garden…..

slow-cooked zucchinis with basil

Preparation – 1 hour

Serves 4, as a side dish.

Recipe adapted from `Spring´ by Skye Gyngell.

ingredients

6 small/530g firm zucchinis

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp ghee/butter, melted

rock salt & freshly ground black pepper

preparation

1.  Trim the zucchinis and slice them into fine rounds, about 3mm thick. I used a mandoline for this.

2.  Place a medium heavy-based pan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil and melted ghee, add the zucchinis and stir well to coat the slices in the ghee and oil. Add a good pinch of salt.

3.  Turn down the heat to its lowest setting possible and cover the pan with the lid. Cook for 40-50 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure the zucchinis do not stick to the bottom or brown. As the zucchinis cook they will soften and their flavour will deepen. Eventually, they will begin to disintegrate, becoming almost like a thick mushy jam.

4.  At this point, remove from heat and add half the basil leaves, plenty of pepper and a good pinch of salt. Stir well, sprinkle over the remaining basil leaves and serve.

These zucchinis are surprisingly good eaten cold as well. Serve as an antipasto with crusty bread, stirred into pasta or as a vegetable side dish.

carrot coriander fritters

8th July 2018

June has been a month of abundant poppy blossoms, big round buzzing bees and cool, misty, chalky mornings.

~ Oriental Brillant Poppy (Papaver orientale)

carrot coriander fritters

preparation – 30 minutes

15 – 18 fritters

ingredients 

¾ cup/90g chickpea flour

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp fine rock salt

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp coriander seeds

1 chilli, finely chopped

pinch asafoetida powder

¾ cup/145g water

3 – 4 medium/350g carrots

½ cup/20g fresh coriander

peanut oil/ghee for frying

preparation 

1.  In a small pan, dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds. Set aside to cool, then roughly grind in a mortar and pestle.

2.  In a medium bowl, measure out the chickpea flour, add salt, pepper, turmeric powder, ground coriander and cumin, chilli, and a pinch asafoetida powder – stir to combine.

3.  Pour in the water and whisk together until smooth. Set aside. The mixture will be sticky.

4. Top, tail and scrub the carrots.  Grate them, either with a box grater or using the shredding blade of a food processor. Place in the bowl with the chickpea batter, along with the chopped coriander. Stir to combine, the mixture will be quite dry. Allow to sit for 5 – 10 minutes for the water to come out of the carrots.

5.  Heat the oil over medium heat in a cast-iron skillet.  When hot, place a heaped tablespoon of the batter into the hot oil.  Spread a little to make a round, flatter shape.

6.  Cook them over medium-high heat until the edges turn golden, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Flip the fritters and fry for another 2  – 3 minutes.  Drain briefly on a paper towel.  Best served immediately with the avocado raytha or spicy pickle, also nice alongside coriander leaf vanghi bath.

Goodness shared by Stacey

a buttery herbed pilaf

16th June 2018

Each year I plant broad beans because of their delightfully scented pure white, black and white flower. The seed always germinates, even in this unpredictable Sintra weather but when the beans arrive, I am sometimes at a loss at what to do with them.

This year, there was an abundance of both succulent beans and sweet peas. Just in time, I came across this rice dish which enabled me to make use of all the various green bits and pieces from the garden, that have emerged at this time of year.

The herbs soften the buttery rice and infuse it with flavour. The steaming method of cooking the rice forms a crusty bottom, creating crunchy shards of golden rice. It is a splendid outcome.

a  buttery herbed pilaf

Serves 3 – 4

Recipe adapted ‘Gather Cook Feast’ by Jessica Seaton.

ingredients

1 cup/200g white basmati rice

½ cup/65g fresh young broad beans

½ cup/70g fresh sweet peas

1 large bunch/20g each fresh parsley, dill or fennel fronds

1 very large bunch/80g fresh coriander

½ cup/125ml melted ghee – divided (or 75g butter-melted)

salt and pepper to taste

zest from half lemon

juice from half lemon

soak the rice

1.  Wash the rice in cold water and drain. Repeat 3 more times to flush out all the excess starch (this helps the rice to be fluffy with nice separate grains when cooked). Then leave to soak in cold water for 1 hour while you prepare everything else.

prepare the greens 

2.  Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. In it blanch the broad beans and peas for 3 – 4 minutes, then drain and refresh in ice-cold water immediately to cool them down (this keeps them green). When they are completely cold, drain the peas and beans, set aside.

3.  Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of all the herbs, and mix together. Keep any tough stems for soups or stews. Set aside.

prepare the rice 

4.  Drain the rice. Fill a medium saucepan (with a lid that fits) with very well-salted water. Bring the water to a vigorous boil and cook the rice for exactly 5 minutes, starting the timer from the moment the rice enters the pot. Drain in a colander and let sit for 5 minutes or so to steam dry.

assemble and cook the pilaf 

5.  Return the empty pan to the stove, add half of the melted ghee.

6.  Split the pile of herbs in two – one to use now, setting the other half aside to use later.

7.  Add one-third of the rice to the pot, then half of the herbs for using now. Do not mix. Repeat with the next third of the rice and the other half of the herbs. Finish with the last third of rice. Drizzle the remaining melted ghee over the top.

8.  Cover the pot with a tea towel, then place the lid firmly on top, folding the corners of the tea towel over the top so that they don’t catch fire. Cook over medium heat (#7 – electric stovetop) for 8 minutes, then place the pot on the lowest heat you can manage (#2 – electric stovetop) and continue cooking for another 45 minutes.

9.  When the rice is ready, mix the reserved herbs from the bowl and the peas and beans into the rice and pile it all onto a good wide platter or bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and squeeze over the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and a few rounds of pepper. Scrape up the crisp rice at the bottom of the pot and tuck it into the pile of rice shards – it’s delicious.

variation

  • replace the peas and beans with 3 medium potatoes; cut into thin slices (no need to precook if thin) and assemble in a wide heavy-bottomed saucepan, starting with potatoes first (for a crusty potato bottom), then rice, herbs, potatoes, rice, herbs, rice then the remaining ghee.
  • vegan option; replace the ghee with ⅔ cup olive oil.

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