Had my first experience of Brick Lane markets on the weekend and I made a rooky mistake…arrived on an empty (grumbling) stomach! I was overwhelmed by the delicious smells of coriander, cumin, allspice and fresh roti wafting from every direction…it was too much for this foodie! *Salivating* Needless to say I had a amazing day wandering the markets, topped it off with Columbia Road and a few floral bargains. Love London.
This dish is inspired by my Mum’s classic Spicy Beef Pilaf and the delicious scents coming from Brick Lane! I made this salad to take to a friends BBQ for a Sunny Sunday afternoon with the girls! I would keep this type of salad in mind for all those BBQ’s, dinner’s or picnic’s you may have coming up as summer continues to shine on. This is a perfect ‘yes I can cook, just watch me’ dish…so easy, but the flavours marry together so well everyone will think you spent hours prepping spices. In actual fact, its all a bit of ‘fake it till you make it’ in my kitchen when it comes to curry paste, so feel free even with this recipe to add/subtract spices to suit your taste 🙂
Pilaf Salad – a salad version of dish normally served hot, in the cold of winter alongside a massive dollop of natural yoghurt and some papadums. But as a salad the winning flavour combo’s are still there, sweet (sultana’s and apricots), spicy (chilli, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, bay leaf, Garam Massala) and savoury (egg, toasted almond and brown rice).
Brown rice ( long or short), 2 cups
Sultanas, 1/2 cup
Dried apricots, 1/2 cup, sliced
Almonds, 3/4 cup , toasted roughly chopped + 1/4 cup to garnish
2 red onions, very finely sliced into rings
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander and lime (wedges) to serve
PASTE: handful of fresh coriander, approx measurements of the following: 1tbs coriander seeds, 1tbs cumin, 1 dried birds-eye chilli (or chilli flakes),1 dried bay leaf, 1/2tbs Garam Massala, pinch of cinnamon, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 tsp peppercorns. Use a mortar and pestle to crush all these together, I’d recommend crushing all dry ingredients first. Use the side on the Pestle to crush the spices as finely as you can then add the fresh coriander and garlic clove to make a firm paste. Taste it, see if it needs a bit of salt, more coriander…more anything you like really 🙂 Extra chilli works well if you are a spice fiend..like me!
1. Get the rice cooking in a large pot of boiling water, then sauté the red onion in a large pot with a good splash of olive oil. Sauté the onion until they sweat, reduce and start to sweeten – this will take a good 5-6min of slow cooking while stirring.
2. Once the onion has lightly caramelized, add the curry paste and stir through on low heat until you can smell cooked garlic. The idea being you want to lightly fry the paste to merge all the flavours.
3. Put your eggs in a small pot, cover with cold water, and put on the hob…bring to the boil. NB: Take note as soon as the water starts to boil, then reduce to a light simmer and cook for 4mins, time it. (1min per egg…this is the rule for a perfect boiled egg)
4. Add the sultana’s and apricots to the pan of onions, along with a few spoon-fulls of the water from the rice pot. This way the fruit will plump up with fragrant spicy juices. Very important step!
5. By now your rice should be cooked, so drain it and run it under cold water. Then mix the rice and onions together, stir through 3/4 cup of toasted almonds then garnish with your quartered boiled eggs, coriander and more toasted almonds! Lime wedges on the side, YUM!