I sometimes wonder which I would choose were I ever forced to decide between no more rice or no more potatoes for the rest of my life. It is a topic that comes up from time to time on various foodie discussion boards that I frequent, and I know I would find it a tough choice. I think that I lean towards rice ever so slightly, I know that you can do lots with potatoes, but I do adore a bowl of rice with a glug of soy sauce or some oil and salt & pepper.
This coming Friday is Diwali, which this year co-incides with bonfire night, it is a sympathetic meeting of festivals and I am expecting to see lots of fireworks over the weekend. Whilst the British are celebrating a failed Roman Catholic plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs will celebrate Diwali; also known as the festival of lights, and for many of these faiths it is the most important festival of the year. I also find it fitting that this year two festivals celebrated with lights both fall the weekend after the clocks have gone back. I did enjoy my extra hour in bed last Sunday, but it does not nearly make up for the fact it is now getting dark mid afternoon with the sun setting at around 4.30pm this week.
For Hindus, Diwali, or Deepavali, is also known as the “awareness of inner light”; something beyond the body and mind which is pure, infinite and eternal. This light outshines all darkness and ignorance, with it an individual’s awareness is awakened and this leads to compassion, love, joy and peace. Celebrations vary but most will include fireworks, lighting of lamps, worship and the sharing of food & sweets. Most families will cook a special feast for the occasion.
A few months ago, in the heat of the summer, I was asked to an evening to try out some Tilda Stir Fry Rices, which I greatly enjoyed. Recently they sent me some more of their rice; packets of plain basmati for me to make a Diwali dish. As I wrote at the time about Tilda, I think that they have a great product, and importantly take equal care of their ethical policies, sustainability and work with local communities. All great stuff which makes them a company I am happy to endorse.
Basmati rice is fragrant, delicately flavoured and utterly delicious, so really does not need a complicated recipe, just a little enhancing. I cooked my rice with lemon and cardamon and served with slowly cooked caramelized onions. I cook my rice in a microwave steamer, it never fails to produce perfect rice, it cooks faster than on the hob (14 mins for brown rice). My steamer is this one from Lakeland, the best £8.99 that I have ever spent and I actually cannot cook rice without it! I usually make lots of rice and have leftovers fried for breakfast the next day. I make no pretence that this is an Indian dish, but I think it a perfect showcase for the rice.
This simple dish is perfect for an easy weeknight dinner
- 1 medium onion
- 1 glug olive oil
- 1 knob butter or non diary spread
- Salt & pepper
- 150 g white basmati rice
- 1/4 lemon - sliced
- 8 cardamon pods
Thinly slice the onion and gently fry in the oil and butter with a sprinkling of salt & pepper. It needs to be cooked over a low heat for about 20 mins, until soft but starting to caramelise. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
Whilst the onion is cooking prepare the rice. I put it in the steamer, rinse, add the lemon and cardamon pods. Add boiling water so the rice is covered by about an inch and microwave on full power for 12mins. When done, place the inner steamer basket in the sink, pour a kettle of boiling water over to rinse and give a good shake and remove the lemon. If you do ot have a steamer cook the rice as would would usually do, but add the lemon and cardamon.
Serve with the onions on top of the rice and a sprinkle of garam masala.
Thank you to Tilda for the free samples of rice.