Brown rice with fresh herbs & aubergine stack

Brown rice with fresh herbs & aubergine stack

Of all the carbs we are blessed with, I love rice and potatoes best.  For me, life in the kitchen wouldn’t be the same without rice or potatoes – these are the two most versatile foods in the pantry and can be adapted, messed around with, fried, steamed or boiled and served with just about any other veg, bean or legume.

Iranians are experts at putting together a huge variety and combinations of rice with various herbs and vegetables.  My mother being of Iranian origin and my father Indian, we were lucky to have two of the major cuisines of the world served to us effortlessly (at least it seemed that way!).  Iranians food resembles Indian/Pakistani cuisine in many ways;  rice and bread served with stews and curries but they use very few spices and chilli and an awful lot of herbs in their cooking which makes their dishes so supremely fragrant.

Here I have adapted a rice dish and used brown rice (normally good quality white Basmati rice would be used) and chosen parsley and dill to flavour the rice.  Served with a stack of aubergines and tomatoes, you can easily win the hearts of friends and family and, as always, it is a simple, easy meal to prepare.

4 servings

Ingredients for herb rice

300 grams brown rice (I used brown Basmati)
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 inch stick of cinnamon
2 tablespoons tomato puree
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons olive oil (the cheaper cooking variety)
1½ cup fresh chopped dill
1½ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
650-700ml water
½ teaspoon salt

Method

  • Fry the onion and cinnamon stick in oil until golden
  • Add garlic, turmeric, chopped herbs and salt – fry for 2-3 minutes to release flavours
  • Add tomato puree, salt, rice and water (add 650ml and add a little more hot water if required)
  • Bring to boil and lower heat. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes or so, stirring intermittently, until rice is cooked and all the liquid absorbed

Ingredients & method for aubergine stack

2 medium size aubergines, sliced thinly (about 0.5 cm)
2 large beef tomatoes, sliced thinly
Pesto (see below)

  • Put 1 good tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy frying pan and fry aubergines on low heat for 5 minutes
  • Turn over the aubergines, add another tablespoon of olive oil and fry for 5 minutes until both sides are golden
  • Place a slice of tomato on a plate topped with a slice of aubergine; spread half teaspoon of pesto. Continue layering this way and hold the stack together with either a twig from a rosemary bush if you have one growing or a toothpick. You should get 4 good stacks

Ingredients & method for Pesto

½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped dill
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon pistachios, pine kernels or cashews (I used pistachios)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water to thin the pesto
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt

  • Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth
  • Adjust consistency by adding a little water or olive oil

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