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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vegetable Rice Curry

So, still on the healthy theme instead of the cakes. This is not normal! I hope you can cope.
In any case, this is a pretty useful recipe to have up your sleeve for a healthy, filling, tasty, very easy-to-make meal. The baking shop where I did my bread baking class also has cooking several cooking demonstrations each month. They're not hands-on, but they introduce you to new recipes (often baked goods) and you get to taste each one - which I find far more useful than just reading a list of ingredients in a cooking book or looking at a photo. If I saw this recipe in a book I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been interested, but having had the opportunity to taste it I realised it was pretty good, especially with our new watching-our-health outlook.
Although this is called a curry, I think of it as more of a curry flavoured risotto. It's basically a rice dish with flavourings. In fact, this recipe is one our instructor rediscovered from her militant vegetarian health-nut phase in the early 80s, but it holds up well today especially if you use a 'proper' Asian curry paste instead of those dusty tins of curry powder like she used to do.
The fact it uses brown rice may put many off, but I've come around to the 'odd' taste and texture. I definitely had my prejudices about it; I remember a miserable period in my childhood when the whole family were subjected to the Pritikin diet and we ate nothing but brown rice and unsalted, watery vegetables every meal. For an 11 year-old longing for anything fatty, it was a disheartening experience going to the dinner table each night. Brown rice equalled all that was bad in the world!
Sure, it has a chewier texture, and it will never be my rice of choice to go with Asian food or even curries, but it does have its place in the world. I like the nutty flavour and the knowledge that I'm giving myself a healthy dose of fibre! The nuttiness is really brought out by the peanuts and sunflower seeds too: a really interesting flavour! It's also packed full of vegetables so you know you're doing yourself good while you get to eat a tasty meal.
I found it was very easy to make. If you start making it once you get in the door, you can spend the 40 minutes it takes for the rice to cook by doing other exciting things...like reading other food blogs!
Read on for the recipe:

Vegetable Rice Curry
Courtesy of Marg and Maree's Baking and Breadmaking

Serve as a vegetarian main meal, as a vegetable side dish, or if you wish add some cooked chicken or beef strips at step no. 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 onions chopped
1-2 tablespoons curry paste
2 cups raw brown rice
3 tablespoons soy grits*
5 cups water
1-2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped and roasted
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra
1-2 zucchini, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced finely
10 button mushrooms, sliced
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can tinned)
Lemon juice, to serve
Packaged crispy fried onions, to serve (optional)

1: Heat the oil in a large saucepan (needs a lid), add the onions, curry paste and rice, saute until the onions are soft. Add the soy grits and cook for a further 2 minutes

2: Add the water to the saucepan, stir in salt, sunflower seeds and peanuts. Bring water ot the boil, cover with lid and cook over a moderate heat until the liquid has been fully absorbed and the rice is tender (approx. 40 minutes).

3: Heat the extra oil in a frypan, add the zucchini, mushrooms and celery, saute until tender, stir in the tomatoes, continue stirring until tomatoes are heated (alternatively, you can add the tinned tomatoes to the rice pot while it's cooking, so they will not be quite so acidic).

4: Add vegetables to rice mixture, stir to thoroughly combine, serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice and some crispy fried onions over the top.
Makes quite a large amount. Definitely enough for a few meals!

*Note: the soy grits in the recipe are optional and are mainly used by vegetarians to introduce enough protein in their meals. I chose not to include them.
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  • Fuuny about the anti-brown-rice prejudice...in my house, since I was little, brown rice was the only rice we ate (cooked in a rice cooker, natch), and the only white rice I ate was in a restaurant, and I considered it quite a treat. I remember the one time we cooked white rice at home, it was really an occasion! Now that I eat more Japanese food, white rice has become more common for me, but at home, we still eat brown rice (my mum even buys brown basmati rice, which doesn't taste any different from normal brown, in my opinion).

    -- Chloe

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/09/2006 04:55:00 pm  

  • Sounds good, sunflower seeds and peanuts with the brown rice. But don't they go a bit soggy over 40 minutes of cooking with the rice?

    By Blogger Owen, at 8/11/2006 05:24:00 pm  

  • Hi Owen - The sunflower seeds still retained their chew (if not their crunch), but I can't actually recall what the peanuts did. They may have melded with the rice and been more of a taste addition rather than a texture thing. I think this is dish you'd like - I'm considering making another batch this evening. It's great I enjoy something so healthy!

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