We often eat rice, and you will find a few different types of rice in our kitchen at any given time (mostly a couple of different basmati and risotto rice). I'm always on the lookout for new rice recipes, and could never resist a new cook book.
Celebrity chef, restauranteur and cookery writer Nisha Katona has a new 8 part BBC 2 show presented by Tom Kerridge coming out in early 2018 called The Finest in the Deli, where she will be one of two expert judges on each episode.
She has recently relaunched her book Pimp my Rice (publisher: Nourish Books, an imprint of Watkins Media Limited). Nisha Katona is often called a rice evangelist, and her passion for rice shines through every page of this cook book. She is the ultimate rice guru. Be prepared not to read her book on an empty stomach. It will rumble.
There are recipes to suit different styles - from meat-eaters to pescatarians to vegetarians.
The photographs are vibrant and mouth-watering (and I'd love to see a photo for each recipe too).
In the introduction Nisha mentions that she wrote this book because she felt rice needed to be celebrated. She thinks that" in the West rice is treated like a second-class citizen and that it is relegated to the realms of lacklustre side orders".
I tend to slightly disagree with that point of view. For example, in Italy risotto is one of the most glorified meals, a feast in itself, if cooked properly. The same goes for a humble rice pudding in the UK: its stodgy creaminess is back in vogue these days when cooked with a variety of dairy alternatives - almond or coconut milk. Each country probably has its own famous rice dish. Nothing of the 2nd-class citizen at all, in my opinion.
And Nisha definitely raises it to a Royal position. Her recipes are fun, jazzy and unconventional, she is not afraid to shock the purists.
Nisha gives a thorough description of cooking methods (to rinse or not to rinse, to soak or not to soak) and useful tips.
She cooks a wide selection of rice dishes from all around the world. There are not that many Eastern European recipes - two Hungarian and one Russian-inspired (I say inspired because the recipe is not an authentic Russian one. I've never come across blini made with brown rice in Russia. Buckwheat flour, yes, brown rice, not exactly).
Nisha has also put a personal twist on many classic dishes. I chuckled at her description of Zingy pineapple & anchovy arancini: "Okay, so this recipe might see Italian mammas crying into their ragu in horror..." and "Serve hot - but not to your Italian mother-in-law". Advice taken, Nisha, I won't be serving it to my Italian in-laws to spare their feelings.
The book is divided into chapters: Kick starts (Binged breakfasts), Light fantastics (starters, lunches & late-night munchies), Main grains (fantastic feasts from around the world), Souped-up sides (Super support acts) and Happy endings (the rice sweet elite).
I have bookmarked several recipes to try - like Peanut Ping Pongs (made with basmati and peanuts)...
Gin & tonic coriander salmon sounds like a fabulous recipe for entertaining and more formal dinners:
Hungarian & raisin rice cake looks luscious. I haven't tried it, but it reminds me of the Italian sweet pastries made with rice.
This is not a budget recipe book, as the author uses a lot of exotic ingredients.
I have cooked only one recipe from the book so far - Smoke my Squash (i.e. stuffed butternut squash). I have cooked different variations of this dish in the past (for example, see Roasted & Stuffed Butternut Squash with Brown Basmati, Quinoa and Goat's cheese). For Nisha's recipe you will need chorizo, sundried tomatoes, goats' cheese among the other ingredients, which all add up price-wise but if you don't count pennies or want to impress your guests, go for it.
It is very tasty, and I will be cooking it again. My Mum who is visiting us this month, loved it.
For a vegetarian version skip chorizo, and add more paprika for colour.
I have adapted Nisha's recipe, first of all by halving the amount of ingredients and slightly changing the method - see my tip on cooking the squash. I used only 1 squash, and that was definitely enough for 4-5 servings.
You will need:
1 medium to big butternut squash
2-3tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic
60g chorizo, cubed
1/2 sweet red pepper
1/2tsp smoked paprika
a handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped
about 100g cooked rice (I used Tilda's jasmine rice)
goat's cheese, cubed (about 1/3 of a small log)
fresh parsley, chopped
smoked sea salt (optional)
It's not an easy task to cut a butternut squash with its hard skin. My tip is to wrap the squash in foil whole, and cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 180C. Take it out of the oven, let it cool a bit and then cut in half and scoop the seeds and fibres. Scoop out the inside to make a vessel for the stuffing. It will also then take less time to cook it stuffed.
Cube the squash which you have scooped out, and fry in the pan with the olive oil, chorizo, sliced pepper, minced garlic and paprika. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring.
Season the shells with salt and a bit of oil. I used smoked sea salt, as I love smoked flavours.
Stuff the open halves with the rice, and put back in the oven to cook for another 25 minutes. Add cubed goat's cheese on top in the last five minutes of cooking.
Add the chopped parsley before serving.
This book will appeal to more experienced cooks, or/and a trendier audience, with its mini-anecdotes accompanying the recipes and the title. I confess I'm not overly enthusiastic about the title - Pimp my Rice... I know it's the word widely used these days for almost anything, but it doesn't appeal to me personally. It also proves that I'm not with the In-crowd, and am an old fuddy-duddy.
Nisha is passionate about rice and is very enthusiastic in her desire to share her love of rice.
If you're looking for a gift for a foodie in your life, as a birthday present or for Christmas, this book will tick all the boxes.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this cook book for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are my own.
If you like the sound of this book, here is your chance to win one of the copies of this cook book. Lovely people from Watkins Media have offered a copy of Pimp My Rice by Nisha Katona as a giveaway prize for my blog readers.
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