Cooking during these strange and curious Covid times has presented something of a challenge. Usually I’d be the kind of cook to hit the greengrocers or fishmongers almost daily, looking to the freshest and handsomest produce available to be the source of inspiration. However, with the threat of a contagious virus ever there, I had to take stock. Both figuratively, and literally. Pickles, and oh how do I love pickles! Tins of chickpeas. Doubling up on tubs of Greek yoghurt that I know will stay the distance in fridge, ubiquitous as it is in my day-to-day cooking. Herbs like parsley and thyme that keep well. Bags of various rices and pulses or legumes. Eggs (another staple in my day-to-day). Anything so as to venture forth into the ‘danger zones’ a little less.
When the weather became truly chilly, I turned to slow cooked curries that could be warmed up on the stove from one night to the next, only intensifying in flavour. But there was one dish I found myself repeatedly craving, and that was the famous Nasi Goreng from the local Thai restaurant. And so I began to champion rice in my cooking, often using it as the ‘binding glue’ for the many bits and bobs of fresh produce about to turn for the worse… Half an aubergine here… A slice or two of green pepper there. All into the pan of spiced rice it went for my dinner that eve, never quite the same from one attempt to the next. Anyway, all of this inspired this particular champion among my go-to’s at the moment, be it a lazy Sunday breakfast affair, or a warm hug from the inside after a tedious Monday. I do so hope you’ll enjoy it!
Serves four modestly, or alternatively two ravenous mouths
Half a cup of rice of your preference
A cup of stock either chicken or veggie* (ideally home-made, and obviously vegetable if yours is a vegetarian household)
A teaspoon of paprika
A teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Two teaspoons of turmeric
A heaped tablespoon of chia seeds
Four large quality eggs
Five tablespoons of Greek or creamy, full fat plain yoghurt
Three generous teaspoons of Tahini paste
A bunch of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Two pickled onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A generous dollop of butter or healthy slug of olive oil
*For brown rice, a little bit more stock may be needed
Place your pan on a medium heat. Combine the dry elements (rice, spices and chia seeds) and diced pickled onions into the pan and add either your butter or your olive oil. Keep stirring the dry elements to mix and to make sure they get an even coating of the oil or melted butter. When you start to hear a little crackling, add your stock, reduce your heat and cover the pan with a lid larger than the pan’s circumference.
Allow to simmer away, checking on it and stirring as you would a risotto from time to time. Taste the rice here and then. Perhaps you would like it spicier with the addition of a chilli or chilli flakes. By all means. Perhaps you would like a little more butter. Be playful with a dish like this and explore the flavour profiles that you yourself enjoy. Personally, for me, I feel a squeeze of lemon is never amiss! When the rice has just about absorbed all the water, add a tablespoon of the yoghurt and stir it in.
Next, turn the heat down to low, and make little pockets in the rice for your four eggs. Crack each egg into the bottom, and return the lid. Again, monitor the eggs, as per your preference. Mine only steam away for a couple of minutes as I love a runny, golden yolk. That’s my way, not necessarily yours… Once ready, remove the pan immediately from the heat so that the eggs don’t cook much further.
Now turn to your side dish. In a bowl, spoon the remaining four tablespoons of Greek or plain yoghurt with the Tahini paste and swirl. Finally, dish each plate with egg and rice and a side spoonful of the Tahini yoghurt, sprinkling with the fresh and zesty parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes all a good dish needs to elevate it, is the right kind of side and something fresh from the garden! And on that note, it’s dinner time for this particular lass… Till we feast again! xo