I am lazy when it comes to Indian rice dishes. Often a multi-step process done the traditional way, I am just as likely to throw everything into the rice cooker and press GO. The results are pretty fabulous. This one is made with lettuce greens that can stand heat without collapsing, onion and spices.
I think my laziness comes from my upbringing – rice is rarely a key player in Western cuisines. It is a bland undercurrent to more flavoursome dishes. Like bread, the flavourless but textured item on the plate played host to dishes that were long cooked, perhaps spiced with curry powder (but that was rare), or to dishes that were more Asian in style. Flash cooked vegetables in the wok, some deep fried tofu and sauce, some Japanese miso-baked vegetable. These latter items were from my kitchen, never my parents. In their kitchen, rice was rare, white and bland. It was so rare that when I moved out of my parent’s home I didn’t know how to cook it.
Times have changed, Indian cuisine is a huge part of my life, but for some reason I prefer to cook rice quickly – like you would a quiet accessory to a meal. I can’t quite get the hang of rice being the major component, a dish worthy of standing alone, worthy of having its own accompaniments and accessories.
Yet, who can deny the flavours of Indian rice dishes are spectacular. So my lazy way of making flavoursome Indian-like rice is to put the components all into the rice cooker, so that 20 mins later, with no effort, the rice is ready.
This is how I do it – use the recipe below as a guide and experiment with your own combinations of vegetables and spices.
Lazy Spinach Rice
Take a cup of rice – long or short grain – and rinse well. Soak for 10 – 20 mins if you have the time, and drain well. Place in the rice cooker with water according to your rice cooker instructions.
Add the juice of half a lemon, a little sea salt and a pinch black pepper. Stir through 1 tspn ginger-garlic paste.
Add quarter tspn turmeric powder and an Indian dried chilli or 2.
Now add 2 cardamom pods, 2 cloves, half a star anise, half stick cinnamon, half tspn cumin seeds (toasted if you have time).
Chop 1 – 2 green chillies (or to taste) finely and add.
Rice like this is great – warmly spiced and comforting.
Chop an onion and several handfuls of greens finely (spinach, lettuces or other greens) and add on top of the rice.
Turn on the rice cooker and cook.
Stir the vegetables through the rice with 1 tspn ghee (and optionally 0.5 tspn garam masala). Some chopped mint or coriander leaves go well too if you like. Remove from the rice cooker onto a serving plate.
This is good topped with caramelised or crispy fried onions, if you can be bothered.
Serve and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
Vegetables of your choice can be added instead of spinach. Here are some alternative ways to add vegetables to rice:
- Chop 2 or 3 tomatoes and add on top of the rice.
- Green beans, shelled broad beans, edamame, peas are all good added to the rice individually or in combo.
- Chopped zucchini and/or capsicums.
- Sweet corn kernels or baby sweetcorn with peas.
- Asparagus, chopped into lengths.
- Cauliflower florets.
- Any other vegetable that, chopped, will cook in the same time as the rice.