Persian rice, beef and cabbage

This is a truly delicious meal, I keep sneaking back for extra portions. It uses a surprisingly small amount of meat to make a meal for around eight people. 

I derived the recipe from the astonishingly good book, Nightingales and Roses by Maryam Sinaiee. There are a couple of tweaks to match local circumstances and my store cupboard. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400g basmati rice
  • 400g white cabbage – I used a whole sweetheart cabbage
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 200g mince
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 tbsp tomato puree OR 250ml passata
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20g butter

METHOD:

  • Put the rice in a large bowl, and cover with water, stirring to loosen any surface starch. Drain, and repeat this step three times, then leave the rice to soak in salted water for 30 minutes or more. 
  • Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Drain the soaked rice and add to the pan. Bring the water back to the boil, and cook uncovered until the rice grains are on the surface of the water. This takes about six minutes or so. The rice should feel cooked, but still with a little bite to it. 
  • Drain the cooked rice and rinse with cold water to separate the grains and stop them cooking. 
  • Chop the cabbage coarsely and saute it in 1 tbsp of oil over a medium to high heat, seasoned with the black pepper. After five minutes, as it starts to brown, remove from the pan.
  • Add a bit more oil to the pan, and the chopped onions, fry for around 10 minutes until starting to brown. 
  • Add the mince, turmeric, and cumin, and fry until the mince is well browned. 
  • Add the tomato paste, salt and cabbage. If you are using tomato paste and not passata, then add 200ml boiling water. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. If the mixture is looking a little dry, or starting to catch, add another drop of water. 
  • Using the large pan, put a couple of tablespoons of oil at the bottom, and heat it. Then add alternating layers of rice and cabbage mixture, starting and ending with a rice layer. Wrap the pan lid in a tea towel and jam it firmly on top. 
  • Put the pan over a medium heat and cook until the outside of the pan is hot. 
  • Melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, and pour this over the top of the rice mountain in the pan. Put the pan into an oven at Gas 3, 170C, and bake for 30 minutes. 
  • When the dish is done, it should be turned out onto a platter, and served with yoghurt, pickled vegetables, and a salad of herbs. At this time of year, not that many delicious herbs in the garden, so I skipped that bit. 

 

Roast cabbage with tarragon and pecorino cheese

Another wonderfully easy and tasty recipe from the Levant. This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s book SIMPLE. Best recipe book I ever bought, possibly. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 60ml olive oil (4 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • 1 spring cabbage (the pointy kind) cut lengthways into 8ths. 
  • 5g tarragon leaves, or 3 tsp dried tarragon
  • 20g pecorino cheese
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C
  • In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, a good pinch of salt and a good grate of black pepper. Put 1 tbsp of this mixture in a separate bowl. 
  • Put the cabbage in a large bowl, season with a pinch of salt,  and pour the oil mixture over the cabbages, tossing well to coat. 
  • Arrange the cabbage in a roasting dish, and roast for 15 minutes, until the edges are getting crispy. Remove from the oven to set aside and cool a little. 
  • Add the lemon juice to the reserve tbsp of oil. Add the tarragon. 
  • Put the cabbage on a platter, drizzle over the oil, then add shavings of pecorino cheese and a good grating of black pepper. 

Roast Butternut Squash Mujadara

This is from ‘Cook for Syria’ recipe book, from the club of the same name. The food is great, as is the idea behind the project. This recipe looks quite long, with lots of ingredients, but it didn’t involve anything complicated, and many of the steps can be done while other bits are cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 dessert-spoonful of olive oil
  • 100g shredded cabbage, kale or brussel sprouts
  • 1 tbsp sumac powder (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes or powder
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 160g puy lentils or other green lentils
  • a bay leaf
  • salt
  • 160g basmati rice
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 6 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • Coriander leaves, chopped.

METHOD:

  • To make the cabbage/kale layer, chop the leaves and mix with the sumac, chilli, sesame seeds, 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt, and put it into a roasting dish. Roast for 15 minutes at 150C
  • To make the butternut squash layer, mix the squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, thyme leaves, honey, salt and pepper. Put this into another roasting dish and roast for 30 minutes at 180C
  • The rice layer has more steps. First of all, slice the onions finely, and fry gently in olive oil until beginning to brown and caramelise. Set aside.
  • Rinse the green lentils in cold water, then cook in plenty of boiling water with the bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Rinse the rice in cold water, then cook in plenty of boiling water for around 6 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water, and return to the pan. Leave the pan in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  • Mix the lentils with the rice, the fried onions, and add the lemon juice.
  • Make the yoghurt dressing: heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan, then add the cumin seeds. After a minute, add the ground cumin, stir, and then beat into the yoghurt, with the tahini.
  • Take 1 large platter, and put the rice and lentil mix at the bottom, then the squash, and top with the cabbage, garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Guests should help themselves, adding as much of the tahini/yoghurt dressing as they wish.

Shredded cabbage with mustard seeds and coconut

For this Indian recipe, you should really use fresh coconut, but if I’ve ever bought a coconut here, it has not been that good. I’ve substituted coconut milk.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tbs mustard oil or other vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  • A large green cabbage, around 1.5kg, cored and finely shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 fresh hot green chilli, in fine long strips
  • 50g grated coconut or 100ml coconut milk

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium to high heat
  • Add the mustard seeds and bayleaf, and as soon as the bayleaf starts to darken and the mustard seeds start to pop, add the cabbage
  • Turn the heat to medium, then stir and cook for around five minutes.
  • Add the sugar, salt and chilli, and continue to stir and cook for a further three to five minutes
  • Turn off the heat, add the coconut, mix and serve.