Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Riso rosso - all'orientale

There is little food left in the house today. It is raining outside. I had no lunch-date, and quite a bit of work ahead. I didn't want pasta, again. Nor did I want to order in. But I was hungry. I wanted something simple and healthy from the east, somewhere. There's plenty of basmati in the cupboard, which I usually prepare as an accompaniment to curries (soaked and then cooked with curcuma, a little saffron, one or two cardamoms, one clove). But I used to cook a nice tomato rice. Today I improvised a sophisticated version - and so here is the recipe for a quick, satisfying, sophisticated and fragrant, yet simple autumn lunch for one or two. (There is quite a bit left-over.) It probably could be served also as a side dish to veal, poultry or fish.

Rinse two cups basmati rice in cold water; soak in cold water. Meanwhile, chop a scallion and a thin 2cm-piece of fresh ginger; slice a pealed carrot into thin rounds. Sauté all these in olive oil. Once the shallots are transparent, add a few chopped-up fresh tomatoes, together with a dozen strands of saffron. Add a whole, medium-hot red pepper. Add one long pepper, a tiny pinch of dried fenugreek (if desired), and some salt to taste. Lower the flame. Now add the soaked, rinsed-out rice. Immediately add a can or carton of chopped tomatoes. Add two or three pinches curcuma, and some more salt to taste. You can also throw in a few pinches powedered Espelette pepper, to taste. (The result shouldn't be too hot, but a little bite is needed.) Stir well. Add two cups of water, stir again. Cover, and cook over a low flame. After about five minutes, add half a cup white wine, and then a knob of butter. Stir gently and cover again. The rice should be ready within another 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the quality of the grain and the amount of time it soaked. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper.