Yesterday I received a letter from Turkey:

“Hi Kurma, I am writing you from Turkey. I have coincidentally came across with your website. I looked at your foods. They are really nice and you have some Turkish foods on your website. I wonder if you have ever been in Turkey? D.Ç.”

I answered that no, I had not been to Turkey but was interested in visiting one day.

The interface reminded me of one of my favourite rice dishes, which I shall share with you here.

Turkish Rice Pilaff:

Turkish Rice Pilaf with Currants & Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are the kernels or seeds that are shed as the pine cones dry, open out and mature in the summer months. These little cream coloured nuts can be toasted lightly in a dry frying pan, or with a little olive oil, to release a deeper, nuttier flavour. Coupled with flavoursome cloves, orange, ginger, thyme and succulent currants, they add a tasty crunch to this exotic rice dish from Turkey. Serves 6 persons.

3 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
½ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder
1½ cups basmati rice
4 whole cloves one 2.5 cm cube ginger, sliced
2 bay leaves
2 whole stalks fresh thyme
three large strips orange zest
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/3 cup currants
3 tablespoons chopped continental parsley

Heat the vegetable stock in a small saucepan over moderate heat, cover, and bring to the boil.

Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low to moderate heat. When slightly hot, add the pine nuts. Stir-fry them for a minute, or until they turn a light golden-brown and smell fragrant. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Quickly remove the nuts from the oil and drain them on paper towels with a slotted spoon.

Sprinkle the yellow asafetida powder into the hot oil. Stir momentarily, drop in the rice, and stir-fry it in the oil for 2 or 3 minutes or until the rice grains become a little whitish in colour.

Pour the boiling stock into the rice. Add the cloves, ginger, bay leaves, thyme stalks, orange zest, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high, and bring the rice to full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to very low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer, without stirring, for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and fluffy.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, allowing the delicate rice grains to firm up for 5 minutes. Lift the lid and carefully extract the cloves, thyme stalks, ginger and bay leaves. Finally, fold in the currants, nuts and continental parsley and serve the rice hot.
Posted by Kurma on 22/1/06; 9:13:14 AM

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