Lazy Spinach Rice

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.

Similar dishes include Clove, Cardamom and Cinnamon Rice, Vegetable Pulao, and Black Pepper and Cumin Rice.

Browse all of our rice dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Quick Rice Squares and Sizzling Rice Squares in Dipping Sauce

How inventive rice squares are. They are pretty easy to make, then their bland goodness is partnered with some flavoursome soups, broths or sauces. You have to admire cultures that waste little.

If sizzling rice squares are your thing, the rice squares are deep fried before placing in the soup or sauce – they sizzle when they are hot and really sizzle as they hit the liquid. They can also be used in any stir fried dish. We have our Asian brothers and sisters to thank for this easy and filling addition to simple meals.

We love to make these from scratch, but left over cooked rice can be used too. They make such a delicious afternoon snack.

Similar recipes include Congee and Thattai Vadai.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, and our Chinese recipes. Explore all of our Mid Spring dishes too.

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Rice, Millet, Lentil and Burghul Congee with Roasted Cauliflower

The great thing about congee is that, once you have perfected the cooking method, it can be made with a wide range of lentils, beans, grains and rice. Rice congee is the most well-known, but congees can be made from rice mixed with other grains, beans and lentils, or made without rice at all.

Today we made a clean-out-the-pantry congee, and it is delicious. It was made with lentils, burghul, millet and rice. In the photo it is topped with roasted cauliflower, green herby sauce, herbs, roasted cauliflower leaves, sesame oil and pickles. But you can top your congee with whatever your heart desires. That is the beauty of congee.

Remember to cook congee on the lowest possible heat, so it is barely simmering. Use a heat diffuser, especially for the second half of cooking, otherwise it may stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. I prefer to cook it in a Chinese clay pot – I believe the flavour is superior, and I keep my pot for congee only.

Similar dishes include Congee, Red Rice and Adzuki Congee, and Quinoa Porridge.

Browse all of our Congee dishes. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Black Glutinous Rice Congee

Having a special clay Chinese cooking pot certainly turns the focus to congee – the pot (in my simple mind) adds something undefinable and delectable to the congee that is not achievable in other pots and pans. Today our congee is cooked with black glutinous rice. I mixed it with a little white rice this time, but it can be made without the white rice.

For more information on making Congee and Chinese Clay Pots, check this article.

Similar dishes include Congee Bowls, Rice, Millet and Lentil Congee, Quinoa Congee with Tomatoes, and Red Rice and Adzuki Bean Congee.

Browse all of our Congee recipes and all of our Chinese dishes. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Sweet Quinoa and Oat Congee with Poached Oranges and Vanilla Ricotta

Congee, back in the Ming dynasty, was used as a vehicle for medicinal herbs. Even without the herbs, it is such a great vehicle for love, comfort and nourishment. It is comfort food indeed, eaten at any time but especially when one is feeling under the weather, or has stomach trouble. It is also reputed to be suitable for eating when one has a hangover.

Most people think of congee as a rice porridge, but depending on where you lived in Asia, your congee might be made with millet, barley, corn, mung beans or other legumes, mixed with or without rice. Sadly, it is only the South China version made with rice that has become known more universally, probably because it is so creamy and mild. Congee has lots of names across the world too, eg jook (Cantonese, Korean), jok (Thailand), zhou (Mandarin), kanji (Tamil), chao (Vietnamese), canja (Portugese). In Thailand, they mix additional ingredients into the congee, but in China, it is served with toppings and sides.

Congee is a great way to prepare a meal out of nothing. A cup of rice, lentils or grain can be cooked with 8 – 10 cups of water and whatever flavourings are available in the pantry at the time. I prefer to cook congee in a clay pot, easily available from any Chinese store, as it gives a better flavour.

And most of all, congee is a meal that’s all about personal preference. Cook your chosen grain or lentil, for as long as it takes to get your perfect texture, flavour it as you will, and add the toppings that you enjoy. Today’s congee is made with Oats and Quinoa, a delicious combination that is perfect for breakfast or day time snack. Unlike our other congee recipes, it is one that is sweetened with the addition of dried fruit while cooking.

Similar recipes include CongeeRice, Millet and Lentil Congee, Black Glutinous Rice Congee, and Red Rice and Adzuki Bean Congee.

Browse all of our Congee recipes, and all of our Quinoa and Oat dishes. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Warm Rice Pudding with Orange Star Anise Sauce and Walnuts

Rice pudding never goes astray in cooler weather, and indeed I judge the start of the cold months by my impulsion to make one. Late in the Winter too, when the oranges are ripe and juicy, it is delicious with an orange sauce drizzled over the top. Today we make a buttery Orange Sauce with Walnuts. It is a pudding that is at its best when eaten warm to hot.

Similar dishes include Baked Rice Pudding, Cold Pandan Rice Pudding with Lime Syrup, and Bengali Rice Kheer.

Browse all of our Rice Puddings and all of our Desserts, or explore all of our Late Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Miso Vegetables and Rice with Sesame Dressing

Oh my, this miso flavoured bowl of rice and vegetables is gorgeous. We have made it with noodles too, with equal success. Vegetables are poached in a mixture of miso, soy, mirim and vegetarian dashi for a high flavoured stock. They are served on rice (or noodles) and dressed with sweet rice vinegar, peanuts and sesame seeds. Highly gorgeous.

The play of the crispy veg with the soft rice and of the sweet and tart flavours of the sauce and dressing, the contrast of the dark sauce flavours with the freshness of the herbs and veg, the rubberiness of the mushrooms with the crisp veg, crunchy nuts and soft rice – all make this a dish worth the effort. Each veg has to cooked briefly, the rice is cooked, the sauce is reduced, the dressing is made, and, if you are making your own dashi, that needs to be made too. A comforting and nourishing dish indeed, but one that needs some time devoted to it.

The vegetables used are broccolini, carrots, shimeji mushrooms, cucumber and snow peas. It is a perfect balance of flavours and textures. It is best to use this combo the first time that you make it. It is an experience. For future dishes, if you need to change out some of the veg, consider substituting small broccoli florets, asparagus spears, enoki mushrooms etc. We have added sliced, rehydrated shiitake mushrooms too (delicious), and even the carrot can be substituted with jicama or kohlrabi if necessary. It is a versatile dish – sometimes we also add a few small leaves of Asian greens, blanched quickly in the stock. But the very very best combo of veg is the one specified by Ottolenghi.

The recipe is an Ottolenghi one from Plenty More, his recipe collection that never fails to delight! Use a rice that is a little sticky. He suggests sushi rice, and that is easily available.

Similar dishes include Miso Slow Braised Cabbage, Quick Pickled Shimeji Mushrooms, Udon and Shimiji in Mushroom-Miso Broth, Malaysian Lemak Vegetables, Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice, and Miso Sesame Dressing.

Browse all of our Rice dishes. All of our Ottolenghi dishes are here. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book.  Or browse our Late Summer recipes.

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Spicy Rice and Fermented Black Bean Salad with Zucchini

Here we go, the last of the 101 Salads of Bittman. Thank you to Mark B. for such a wonderful journey.

This salad takes some short grain rice and mixes it with a wild collection of ingredients, which somehow work together. Often when making Bittman’s salads, I have imagined him at his kitchen bench, going, “right, what is in the fridge today, what is in the pantry, what is left over from last night?”. And somehow and amazing salad comes into being.

For his rice salads, I use an Indian rice – idli rice, in fact. It is a hard rice and needs more water and longer cooking than other rices, but I love that this short grain rice retains its integrity when cooked. It doesn’t collapse or become mushy. I generally have this rice in my pantry – but no need to buy it specially – use the short grained rice that you have on hand.

Are you after similar recipes? Try Quick Zucchini with Garlic, Carrot Rice, Zucchini Rice, and Coconut Rice.

Or you can browse all of our Rice Salads, and in fact all of our Rice dishes. All of our Bittman recipes are here. Or take some time to explore our Early Winter dishes.

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Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice

Another dish from Ottolenghi, this one was inspired by one of his trips to Malaysia. It is a loose take on Nasi Lemak, definitely the country’s most popular breakfast. But be warned: it is quite spicy. You can make the spice paste with far fewer chillies than Ottolenghi prescribes – feel free to just use half a fresh chilli and half a dried chilli if that is to your taste. In actual fact, we make this recipe with the sambals and sambal style chilli mixes that we have on hand (quite a few) rather than make his, and I have included both his recipe and links to our other pastes, purees and sambals that are suitable.

We like this variation on typical okra recipes. In this one the okra is simmered for a few moments only and then served mixed with the chilli-onion sambal on coconut rice. Use the freshest and best quality okra, because it is cooked so briefly.

Don’t omit the crispy fried shallots (available from Indian and Asian grocers) or the coriander. They add some texture and flavour to the dish that is essential to the overall impact.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Crispy Battered Okra in Tomato Sauce, Malaysian Lemak Style VegetablesSri Lankan Okra Curry, and Goan Okra with Chilli-Spice Paste.

Try these different Coconut Rice recipes too. South Indian Coconut Rice, and Balinese Coconut Rice.

Or browse all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Malaysian recipes. All of our Ottolenghi recipes are here. Or take some time and browse our Early Winter dishes.

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Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice

Black glutinous rice, available from Asian groceries, is actually a very deep burgundy colour. It is gloriously nutty in taste, beautiful to look at and has a soft, starchy texture that is slightly al dente, because each grain retains its integrity when cooked. Like brown rice, black rice is unmilled, and it is the dark outer husk that makes it so nutty and chewy. It’s also why it takes longer to cook than many other rices, and needs to be soaked before cooking.

Black glutinous rice works in both savoury and sweet dishes. It’s a popular pudding rice in South-East Asia where it is cooked with water, coconut milk and pandan. It is best known for this delicious dessert. However it can be used in savoury ways too, particularly as a striking alternative to other short-grain rices.

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