Rice is a major comfort food for me. Basmati, Jasmine, Brown, Wild, Sushi and Rice Noodles of any thickness are what I crave when I want a big bowl of something hearty and heart-warming to soothe my soul.
I think it boils down (no pun intended) to my childhood. My mum served up something delicious with rice most nights of the week; beef stroganoff, chicken goulash, stuffed capsicums, honey-soy chicken wings… the list goes on. All yummy European dishes that fill you up and send you nicely off to sleep.
These days I’m more likely to go for a Thai Pad See Ew made with thick rice noodles, beef, sweet soy sauce and Chinese greens or a spicy Indian Madras curry with fragrant pilau rice. This recipe is inspired by the latter, but designed to be a quick and easy after work dinner.
I’ve also included my never fail recipe for steamed rice cooked via the absorption method, taught to me by my mum, who has lots of experience!
Happy cooking, Christie
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Spiced creamy tomato chicken
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 thumb sized piece root ginger, finely grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder or flakes
500g chicken breast, diced
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
200ml double cream
Steamed rice and broccoli to serve (rice recipe below)
Heat the vegetable oil in a medium heavy based saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 mins until soft and starting to brown, then add the garlic, ginger, cumin and chilli powder and cook for 1 min until the spices are really fragrant. Add the chicken and cook stirring until the pieces are browned on all sides.
Add the tomatoes and cream and stir to combine. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down to low-medium and simmer for 20 mins until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked all the way through, stirring occasionally. If you’re unsure if the chicken is cooked, test a piece by removing it from the sauce and slicing it open.
Serve with steamed rice (recipe below) and broccoli.
Need variations? Try these.
Fish: Firm white fish such as cod or monk fish works brilliantly.
Vegie: Try chunks of lightly fried tofu and aubergine instead of chicken.
Meaty: Cubes of lamb or pork would be good substitutions.
How I make rice – absorption method
serves 2 (easily doubled or tripled)
1 mug basmati rice
1 1/4 mug of cold tap water (the same mug you used to measure the rice)
Using a sieve, wash the rice under cold running water until the water runs clear, rubbing the rice between your fingers as you move it around in the sieve. This removes excess starch allowing the grains to remain separate and not turn out lumpy and sticky.
Add the rice to a small saucepan and stir to combine. Level out the top of the rice with a fork, just as if you were raking a mini garden. Then, you need to check the depth of the water covering the top of the rice, it should be about 1cm. I stick my finger into the rice and feel how far the water comes up. My mum uses a wooden spoon (the same one every time) and knows where the watermark should be.
Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Then cover and turn down the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cook for 15 mins – don’t remove the lid! If you do, you’ll let out precious steam resulting in the rice either being bone dry or super soggy. After 15 mins take off the heat and leave for 5 mins, preferably 10 mins, with the lid on – don’t be tempted to lift it!
After 10 minutes you may lift the lid and fork the rice to make it nice and fluffy – like my picture above.
The great thing about this method, which my mother taught me, is that it doesn’t matter how much rice you put in the pot, the water level should always be 1cm deep over the rice. It almost always works out that 1 mug of rice needs 1 and 1/4 cups of water to achieve this, so the recipe can be doubled infinitely.
Important – the only constant needs to be the mug. Use the same one to measure the rice and water.
Also, my mum sweats a diced onion in olive oil in the pan first before adding the rice and water as well as her secret ingredient – a tablespoon or two of a particular brand of powdered vegetable stock – I’m not at liberty to reveal it though!
For this recipe I used Basmati rice because it goes really well with the Indian flavours in the dish. I love Basmati because it is low GI and has a lovely fragrant flavour. This recipe will also work with other types of white rice such as long grain and Jasmine.