Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sardine pilaf

It is a kind of kedgeree, I suppose; and another way of cooking this dish. The reason for the different technique is that I have been experimenting with preparing rice by the absorption method. My past experiments have not been successful; but I do not like admitting defeat, especially as the method, which leaves you simply with your ready-to-eat rice in the pan, is potentially so satisfying. For two.

1 onion, chopped
1 or 2 tbsps groundnut or sunflower oil
2 portions curry powder (check packet for quantity)
150 g basmati rice
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted over a gentle heat in a dry pan
2 tins sardines, drained

Fry the onion gently in the oil until golden -- about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, and cook for a minute or two longer. Meanwhile, check the volume of the rice in a measuring container, and get ready double that volume of cold water. Stir the rice into the onion and curry powder, and pour over the cold water. Throw in the raisins, and add a little salt if you like (the sardines will be salty). If you have a pilaf with quite a few, bulky ingredients (including leftover chicken, for example, you may find that the rice is not completely submerged: you will need a little more water. But the quantities should work in this case. Bring the contents of the pan to a gentle simmer.

I use Tilda basmati rice, or sometimes a Fair Trade brand such as Crazy Jack. I have been allowing 12 minutes over the heat, but I am starting to think that 10 may be sufficient. Anyway, my method has been to cook the rice, uncovered, for about seven minutes, adjusting the heat so that most of the water has been absorbed or has evaporated in that time; and then to cover the pan, turn the heat to its lowest, and to continue the cooking for another five minutes. Then I leave the pan undisturbed for another three minutes.

At this point in the pilaf recipe, stir in the pine nuts and the sardines, allowing the fish to break up a little. Cover the pan for another couple of minutes. Serve.

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