Slow Cooked Stuffed Zucchini

Old fashioned as they might be, there is a joy in stuffed vegetables, oozing with tomatoey rice or chickpea fillings, perhaps covered with cheese, melted and dripping down the sides. Nothing quite says cold weather more than stuffed vegetables. We love them. But then we were never one for fashion, especially in food.

This recipe is Turkish in origin, although many versions appear around the Middle East and gulf regions, from Israel to Afghanistan. We are stuffing our zucchini from the garden, the late ones that have grown slightly larger. We stuff them flat, that is, laying on their length, slit in half, and cooked with the stuffing in hollows left by the removal of their seeds and soft core. You can, of course, stuff them vertical – cutting into lengths without splitting down the middle, and using a manakra from your Middle Eastern store, to hollow out the middles – sort of like coring an apple.

We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe in Plenty More, but many similar recipes abound, using a range of grains to give substance to the filling. We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe because we have a little project at the moment, to cook through Plenty More, so it is a convenient way to add another dish to our project’s Cooked list.

The thing about many Zucchini dishes is that they are just as delightful served at room temperature as well as warm – this dish, for example, is divine. Today’s recipe is in the same class – serve it warmish, or at room temperature, with goat’s feta (Middle Eastern feta, beautifully creamy) and a salad of sliced onion, radish and tomato. Excellent. Make it a first course or a main dish.

Ottolenghi has changed the recipe for this dish over time, reducing the time taken to cook the stuffed zucchini from 2 hours to 40 mins. That raised a warning signal for us. We find that it all depends on your heat levels. I cooked mine with a heat diffuser to keep the heat low and it takes all of 2 hours to ensure the rice is cooked well. Higher heat levels will mean that cooking time is shorter.

Our suspicion is that the longer time might be more traditional, but less photogenic or visually pleasing. It is often the case with dishes from countries like Greece and Turkey, and neighbouring countries, that dishes are cooked longer than might be fashionable these days. Flavour goes through the roof but the visual appeal is lost. It’s a pity that we put so much store on visual presentation.

HOWEVER, we found that using Ottolenghi’s recipe, the zucchini was overcooked and the rice just a tad undercooked, even after 2 hours. After all, it is being steamed rather than boiled as is usual. Our recommendation is that the rice should be par-cooked before using in the stuffing, and that the cooking time is then reduced to 40 – 60 mins so that the rice is really soft. As it is, the recipe does not work. (See this Guardian article which also recommends precooking rice for stuffed courgettes in general.)

I am leaving the recipe as it appears in the book, in case I missed something or you have other insights and views. If so, let me know. It is unusual to have an Ottolenghi recipe that does not work.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Stuffed Tomatoes with Cheese, Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes, and Okra Stuffed with Chilli Paste.

Browse all of our Stuffed recipes and all of our Zucchini dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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

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Vegetable Pulao from the Beaches of Goa

Ah, the beaches of Goa. How they stretch on and on for miles and miles. Once pristine in the days when I began to visit Goa, now the popular beaches are littered with refuse at high tide. It is not a pretty sight, but thankfully the government is working to return them to their former glories.

Yet, Goa remains beautiful and worth visiting for a slow and relaxing holiday. On one of my visits, staying with some friends who run a small B&B and lovely restaurant, Mario made this pulao for a Sunday Lunch. It remains a favourite and always, always, brings those beaches back to me. I remember being woken every morning, not by the sounds of the waves, but by the sounds of the kitchen hands beginning their preparations for the day. The happy sounds of their chopping and laughter would filter through to our bedroom and we would always wake to amazing aromas and great food.

This recipe begins cooking the rice on the stove top and finishes it in the oven, similar to the Obla Chaval method.

Are you after other recipes from Goa? Try Goan Rechad Masala, Ladyfingers Recheio, and Sweet Surnoli Dosa.

Are you after other Pulao dishes? Try  a Sago Pilaf, Green Pea Pulao and Cauliflower Pilaf.

Try some mixed Rice dishes too. Try Masala Lemon or Lime Rice, Tamarind Rice (Puliyodharai Saadham), and Urad Dal Garlic Rice.

You can browse all of our dishes from Goa, and all of our Pilaf/Pulao recipes. You might also like all of our Rice recipes too.  Or browse all of our Indian recipes. Alternatively, take some time to explore our easy Late Autumn dishes.

This is one of our Retro Recipes, vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006.. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

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Black Pepper and Cumin Rice

There are infinite varieties of rice dishes in Indian households, from the very complex to the simple and quick recipes. Today’s rice dish is in the latter category (and you know by now how much I love simple in our complex culinary world.)

This can be made with freshly cooked rice, or with left over rice. If using left over rice, it can be fried with the spices. For fresh rice, it is best to saute the spices and stir through the rice.

This rice really is simply flavoured and can be made in a jiffy. It will also go with any Indian meal or with any other dish that you want to serve with rice. If you would like a recipe for pepper and cumin rice that has more spices and a tadka, check out our Pepper and Cumin Rice here.

Similar dishes include Turmeric and Curd Rice, Carrot Rice, and Lemon Rice.

Browse all of our Mixed Rice dishes, and all of our Rice recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.
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Red Rice and Quinoa with Orange and Pistachios

Quinoa seems to be out of fashion now, but it still has a place in our pantry. This is such a healthy salad, in fact it balances the best of the healthy world with the tasty world of food. Quinoa tastes great, has a satisfying, bouncy texture and is one of the healthiest foodstuffs going. It is said to have more protein than any other grain and the perfect set of amino acids.

This salad combines the quinoa with rice. I have made this salad with both the skinny variety of red rice and also with black rice. Both are amazing, with a wonderful nutty flavour. I have also seen recipes for this dish made with Indian red rice (see comments below), and will experiment with that combination in the future. It is certainly more cost effective.

This is another amazing Ottolenghi dish, from his first book, Ottolenghi. in fact, today it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking mostly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Hence this salad from Ottolenghi. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Interestingly this same recipe is included in Chris Manfiled’s Tasting India, as a recipe from the Himalayan regions of India where red rice (patn1) and red quinoa are grown. The recipe differs in the rices used – she uses patna and Ottolenghi uses French rice – and Ottolenghi adds pistachios. Chris also uses red rather then white quinoa. While (to my mind) it sits uncomfortably in Chris’ book, the book is a collection of recipes given to her by people across India, so it is conceivable that the recipe provided (without provenance) was Ottolenghi’s. To be fair, we are not given the origins of the recipe in Ottolenghi’s book either, and the combination is probably common to areas of the Middle East and Mediterranean. For example, see Cypriot Grain Salad.

Today, instead of using rocket which will never grow well in our garden, we used a combination of three greens to give that sour and peppery taste that rocket has – purslane, watercress and nasturtium leaves.

Similar recipes include Quinoa Porridge with Tomatoes and Herb Oil, Cypriot Grain SaladQuinoa, Parsley and Lemon Salad, Fennel and Quinoa Salad with Broad Beans, and Sweet Pepper and Rice Salad.

You can browse all of our Quinoa dishes and all of our Rice recipes. The Ottlenghi dishes that we have made are here. Or explore all of our Early Winter dishes.

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Persian Barberry Saffron Rice with Almonds and Pistachios

We are so in love with our long stranded saffron from Saffron Only. With our delivery we also received several recipe cards including the recipe for this rice dish which has also been mentioned by an Irani work colleague. As beautiful soft barberries are available at the local Afghan shop, the recipe was added to our must-cook list.

The recipe simmers long grained rice until al dente, then steams it on a bed of potatoes or pita bread (optional) until the bottom is crispy and the rice is perfectly cooked. It is then served with saffron water, the toasted barberries, almonds and pistachios.

Berberis, commonly known as barberry, is a large shrub that has yellow flowers and red or blue-black berries. The berries, rich in vitamin C, have a distinct sharp acid flavour. The country in which they are used the most is Iran where they are used in rice pilafs.. Due to their inherent sour flavor, they are often cooked with sugar before being added to rice. Iranian markets sell barberry dried. In Russia they are sometimes used in jams and extract from them is a common flavouring for soft drinks and candies/sweets. They are rarely used in Europe in modern times. (Thanks wikipedia.)

I notice that Ottolenghi has a similar recipe on his website. I mention it only as we have an Ottolenghi Project happening, cooking from his book Plenty More. You can check his recipe out, but I like this one better. 🙂

Barberries are also such a beautiful colour that they make a great garnish to any rice dish or salad.

Similar recipes include Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, and Golden Saffron Tea.

Browse all of our Saffron dishes and all of our Persian recipes. Our Middle Eastern dishes are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.
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So Easy Tomato Risotto

We know that we are slipping into Autumn when we begin to cook more rice dishes. Rice puddings and risotto begin to feature at the table, just as long sleeves and light jackets begin to feature in our wardrobe.

Risotto is so easy to make – about 10 mins max prep time, and 20 mins to cook. One pot, little action, just stirring stirring stirring. It is relaxing and meditative. Heaven. Autumn. The pace of life is slower this month.

Similar recipes include Radicchio Risotto, Risotto with Mushrooms, and Parsnip Risotto with Rosemary.

Browse all of our Risotto recipes and all of our Tomato dishes. Our Italian recipes are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Stuffed Vine Leaves | Dolmades

Dolmas, or Dolmades, are little parcels wrapped in grape vine leaves and simmered until the filling is cooked and the vine leaves are tender. Although there is always a rush to make them in Spring as the vine leaves appear, they can be cooked right through to Autumn. Indeed, if you are diligent enough to freeze or preserve vine leaves, they can also be made in Winter. Of course, if home preserving is not your thing, you can always purchase preserved vine leaves (I’ve seen large jars of them). The leaves can be stuffed with many things, but rice, burghul, or a mix of the two, are common.

These dolmas are stuffed with burghul (bulgar, or cracked wheat) and rice in a typically Middle Eastern version with currants and pine nuts. They are delicious. Serve with lemon wedges.

Similar recipe include Burghul Wrapped in Vine Leaves, Grape Leaf Encrusted Rice Pie, and Grilled Pecorino Wrapped in Vine Leaves.

Browse all of our Grape Vine Leaf Recipes, and all of our Dolmas. All of our Middle Eastern dishes are here. Or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

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Cold Pandan Rice Pudding with Lime Syrup and Fruits

There is nothing like a rice pudding when the weather cools after the long Summer days of intense heat and nights spent under the air conditioning to keep cool enough to sleep.

I judge my acceptance of Autumn (it takes a while) by the first rice pudding that is cooked. And today it is a cold rice pudding that is based loosely on a recipe by Ottolenghi. His desserts almost always include eggs, and we don’t cook with eggs. Therefore I made my favourite Greek Rice Pudding and added his lime syrup. It is a really delightful addition – the syrup contrasts beautifully with the sweet rice pudding . For fruit today, I used persimmon and passion fruit. If you have no such restrictions, you can always check out his original recipe in his book or Guardian column, but I love the simplicity of this version.

Similar recipes include Greek Rice Pudding, Old Fashioned Baked Rice Pudding, and Rice Kheer.

Browse all of our Desserts (not many, we don’t have a sweet tooth), and our Rice dishes, sweet and savoury. This recipe was inspired by one of Ottolenghi’s dishes from Plenty More but is quite different. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Broad Bean and Dill Rice

Sometimes we just need to throw something together quickly. This is your recipe for a rice side dish, or a snack if you will – ideal for Spring time when young broad beans are around, or at other times using frozen, peeled broad beans from your Middle Eastern of Afghani Grocer. Grab your dill from there too – they have simply the best, largest, freshest bunches of dill, far better than the limp branch or two we get from Supermarkets. (If you buy your frozen broad beans from the supermarket, it is likely that you will have to peel the individual beans once they are blanched. The ones from a Middle Eastern shop will save you quite a bit of time.)

Similar dishes include Black Pepper and Cumin Rice, Persian Barberry Saffron Rice, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Kosheri, and Zucchini Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes and all of our Middle Eastern recipes. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Grape Leaf Encrusted Rice Pie | Layered Rice with Vine Leaves

We are fascinated with using vine leaves for cooking. While everyone is familiar with dolmades, there are quite a number of dishes that are complemented by the flavour and aroma of the grape vine leaves.

This recipe is sort of a lazy man’s dolmades – a rice mixture baked in layers with vine leaves, and encrusted with vine leaves. It comes out as a pie, and is cut into wedges to be served with lemon and pomegranate molasses. The rice is herby, nutty, and slightly sweet from the currants. Some Middle Eastern flavours there. The recipe comes together easily, tastes great, and can be eaten warm or cold. It is an excellent contribution to a table of mezze.

Similar dishes include Dolmades, Grape Vine Leaf Powder, Grilled Pecorino in Vine Leaves, and Mushrooms Baked in Vine Leaves.

Browse our Rice dishes and all of our Vine Leaf recipes. All of our Yoghurt dishes are here. Or explore our other Early Summer recipes.

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Goan Bisibelebath

Bisibelebath (also written Bisi Bele Bath), meaning hot lentil rice, is a much loved dish of the Karnataka and surrounding regions of South India. In form, it is similar to a kitchari (rice and lentils cooked together), but is actually a variant of a the Tamil mixed vegetable Sambar with Rice (Sadam Sambar) as it has tamarind included. In some parts it is also known as Bisi bele huliyanna which means hot lentil sour rice.

This recipe is from Goa, where I first tasted Bisibelebath. Goan Bisibelebath is a beautiful dish, and this is the recipe that I learned there. By comparison, it is a simple version (but delicious) – some versions have 30 or more ingredients.

Are you looking for Indian Rice dishes? Try Zucchini Rice, Masoor Sprouts Rice, and Parsi Kitchari.

Perhaps you are after Toor Dal recipes. There are our Sambars, of course. Then try Punjabi Aamti Bhat, Eggplant with Toor Dal (Rasavangi), and Indian Dal Soup.

Try some other Goan recipes here and here. And all of our Indian dishes are here.

Feel free to browse other vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in our Retro Recipes series. You might also like to explore our Kitchari recipes here.

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Aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice

This rice dish, very delicious I must say, is cooked in the oven. This method is  very handy if you are cooking a large meal and want to leave the stove top for other dishes. The general method can be used without the addition of the aromatics. Ottolenghi has this recipe in his book Plenty More but I have tarted it up just a little. As much as I love Yotham and crew, they need to get a better handle on Indian ingredients (IMO), so I have added or changed out a couple of things in this dish.

Try to get hold of fresh curry leaves on the stem for this dish – they freeze or dry well, so don’t worry if you end up with a big bunch. One of the ways in which curry leaf flavour is layered into a dish is to use them in several different ways in the same dish. Flavour a broth with them, as Ottolenghi does, saute/fry them in ghee or some other oil because the flavour is most easily transported by oils, and add crushed leaves to the final dish. I have used the last two methods in my version of this dish.

Serve the dish with an Indian pickle and a vegetable or lentil curry.

We have several ways of cooking rice, and this oven method is one more. Also try Oven Finished Rice, Buttery Steamed Rice, and The Absorption Method.

Similar recipes include Turmeric Rice, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Carrot Rice, and Lemon Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, and our Indian Recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here. All of the Ottolenghi dishes we have made are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Radicchio Risotto | Risotto al Radicchio

Oh goodness! The vibrant colour of the bitter leaves of radicchio! I love them in my kitchen, but they are not the cheapest of vegetables to buy so they are not a weekly visitor. However, radicchio is so versatile, and incredibly good.

Today we make a risotto with this glorious vegetable. It is added at the beginning of the cooking process, and thus becomes very tender during the 20 mins of stirring that makes a risotto.

Do be careful about the rice that you use for risotto. You will get the best results using a risotto rice. You can read more about that here. My favourite at the moment, and the one that I used for this dish, is Carnaroli.

Are you looking for Radicchio recipes? Read more about this incredible vegetable here. Try Grilled Radicchio with Shallots and Dill, and Red Rice Congee topped with Radicchio.

Try other risottos too – So Easy Tomato Risotto, Beetroot Risotto, Caramelised Pumpkin Risotto, Mushroom Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto are some of our favourites. You can see how to make a basic risotto here.

Check out all of our Risotto recipes, and all of our Italian recipes. We have some other Radicchio recipes too – check them out here. You might like to browse our easy Late Summer recipes here.

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Norom Shada Khichuri | Latka Kitchari | Bengali Soft Kitchari

Bengalis love their kitchari, and love the rain. Often the two go together – as the rains come, the consumption of kitchari increases exponentially.

There are dozens of types of Kitchari. It is eaten in different forms all over India, but even in Bengal alone, many varieties exist. Kitchari style dishes can vary from pilaf/pulao-like dishes, to the more porridge-like Pongals of Tamil Nadu and the beloved Bisibelebath of Karnataka.

This kitchari is a well-cooked – that is, it is quite soft and moist, almost slightly soupy. It is delicious and it is perfect on a rainy day, any where in the world. The defining characteristics of this kitchari is that it is very soft (norom) and white, as well as healthy.  It is mostly tempered with onion and garlic. (It can also be served very soupy, almost like an Indian version of Chinese Congee. We will add a recipe for this version later on and add a link here.)

I have seen Kitchari referred to as Hodgepodge. My goodness! A hodgepodge is a random assortment of things — a group of things that don’t quite fit together. There is a dish from Nova Scotia called Hodgepodge but it is nothing like Kitchari. It is a collection of beans, peas and potatoes cooked in one pot. It is also common to call Kitchari as risotto. Again this is a great misnomer. Kitchari must be one of the most well known of Indian dishes outside of India, thus it is surprising to see Indian cooks give it other names. You can read more about that here.

Are you after other Kitchari dishes? Try Goan Bisibelebath, Bengali Vegetable Kitchari, Gujarati Kitchari, and Bengali Bhog Kitchari.

Or are you looking for other Bengali dishes. Try Bengali Rice Kheer.  There are more Bengali dishes coming, so check back here.

Browse all of our Kitchari recipes and all of our Bengali dishes. Our Indian recipes are here. Or take some time to explore our lovely Late Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Norom Shada Khichuri | Latka Kitchari | Bengali Soft Kitchari”

Bhuna Khichuri | Bengali 5 Lentil Kitchari with Toasted Mung Dal

The warm weather disappeared and our thoughts turned to kitchari as it rained and rained and rained. Researching Bhuna Kitchari, I came across a very interesting recipe, one that took time and extraordinary care over the making of this dish.  Bhuna Khichuri is a richer version of Kitchari and injects flavours not only through the spices used but also by the slow frying of onions, the roasting of the mung dal and the frying of the other lentils and rice. There are 5 lentils used in this dish. The word Bhuna actually comes from the roasting of the moong dal and the frying the rice as the kitchari is made.

It is true that this recipe for Bhuna Khichuri is fussier than others – more steps and an attention to detail. But the end result justifies the means. Often at our house Kitchari is made in the rice cooker, and it is pretty fast and pretty good. But when time allows, more complex variations yield wonderful results. The recipe isn’t difficult – let me reassure you – it just has a few more steps. I have followed the original recipe fairly closely, with just a few alterations.

The secret to this dish, which I recommend that you note, is the frying of the onions – caramelise them – the quality of your ginger-garlic paste, toasting of the mung dal and the frying of the rice. The texture of the dish is wonderful! Also, on occasion I have used urad dal and matki (moth) beans when I have been out of masoor or mattar dal. Both need to be in the longer soaking.

Similar dishes include Moth Bean (Matki) Dal, Norom Shada Khichuri, Bengali Vegetable Kitchari, Maharashtrian Masoor Sprouts Kitchari,  and Gujarati Kitchari.

Browse all of our Kitchari Recipes. Browse our Indian recipes here and our Indian Essentials here. Or take some time to explore our Early Summer dishes.

Continue reading “Bhuna Khichuri | Bengali 5 Lentil Kitchari with Toasted Mung Dal”