I had no intention of writing this, but after numerous requests, just had too! Hopefully haven’t made it into War and Peace. Also, yes, I’m a bit messy while cooking, but I assure it is all sanitised afterwards.
So. This is not paella, nor spicy rice, egg or otherwise. It is based on Indian/Moroccan cooking and my Dutch mother’s fail-proof way of doing rice – about the only dish she was good at. I am going to anger Spanish people by saying I prefer it to paella. Tough. And thank God my mother doesn’t read anything I write!
This dish, in its basic form, is a great accompaniment to any grilled, BBQed or roasted protein, Spanish or otherwise. In its variation 2, it is also a lovely summer salad with all the other things you serve on a summer day. Or a scrummy winter heart warming dish when the meat or prawns are added.
So here we go again!
Ingredients for the 3 options in 3 parts – bear with me:
1 cup round rice – preferably Bomba from Valencia
1.75 cups liquid – mix of homemade stock and water is preferable – if using whole grain rice as in the photo use a bit more water and time – confession – I prefer white bomba, but being in isolation thought I would try to be super healthy.
2 teaspoon turmeric – anti-inflammatory miracle spice
½ tsp cumin
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paella spice, preferably with safran and not colouring – best of luck finding this
2 tbsps. olive oil
3 tbsps. finely chopped young onion
3 tbsps. medium chopped red pepper
3 tbsps. finely chopped carrot
Lots of coarsely chopped coriander or parsley
Squeeze of lemon juice
Either chopped meat with compatible herbs well fried, or
Freshly cooked giant prawns, or
Cubed Halloumi sautéed quickly with loads of olive oil and chopped garlic – I leave the amount up to you!
So, the basic dish as follows – easy peasy:
- In a wide saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil at low heat and add the dry spices. Stir for 2 minutes
- Add the rice and stir 1 minute.
- Add the stock/water and put heat on high.
- As soon as it boils, IMMEDIATELY stir through ONCE, cover and reduce heat to minimum
- Watch like a hawk or it will burn! Try not to lift the lid off.
- When tilting the pan reveals barely any liquid turn the heat off – about 15-20 minutes. Distribute the rice in a wide bowl. Do not disturb and let cool down. Now you can fluff it up.
- If you executed the above properly you will have an amazing slightly crunchy flavoursome rice suitable for lots of dishes. No need to reheat.
Toss your rice with the spices, veggies, lemon juice and coriander or parsley. Serve as a summer vegetarian salad.
And finally option 3 in 3 forms
- If using the previously prepared chopped meat, place in a large frying pan and stir at medium heat until even crunchier. Organic chopped pork is brill here – only use about 100 grams max. Then add the rice and fry a bit more. You want bite.
- If using the prepared prawns, just mix in to this rice. Nothing more. Fantastic and great at room temperature.
- Re the Halloumi, once cubed and fried in yet more olive oil, mix and serve more quickly to stop the cheese from getting soggy. Tossing it first in a small amount of flour postpones the sogginess. Use with caution.
P.S. I always advise experimentation. This is your sketch. Nothing is written in stone! In some cases the cumin might conflict with the spices of your other dishes.
P.S.S. Please do not ask me about the chopped meat prep. Or do… this is actually my favourite version despite being a confirmed prawn addict.