This month Owen decided that Paper Chef should involve Barberries, Pumpkin, Spinach and Slow. I was rather pleased with the line up ; I had suggested barberries as a Paper Chef ingredient a wee while ago when I was seduced into buying a packet by the salesman's description of the tart red berries. Sadly, they had sat in my cupboard, unopened, until now. I had some pumpkin in the fridge and the silverbeet (my substitution for spinach) was looking perfect out in the garden, begging to be used for dinner. And slow . . . the perfect way to make a Monday night dinner!
When I first bought the barberries I found a recipe in Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food for rice with chicken and barberries. The recipe describes it as the most famous and traditional of Iranian recipes, turning out like a pie with a crisp brown crust. To tell the truth this is what I set out to make this evening, but it is not what I finished with. As I was preparing the recipe I kept thinking this was rather like a biryani, so I decided to turn it into that instead, rather cunningly named as barberryani, do you not think!?
So that is the barberries, and, being slowly cooked at a low temperature with some of my homemade yoghurt, the Slow taken care of.
The pumpkin and silverbeet I turned into a warm salad, going rather well with the barberryani, both in terms of colour and flavour and Paper Chef.
1 chicken breast
1 cup of basmati rice, rinsed
3/4 cup yoghurt
1 small egg
a good pinch of saffron, soaked in boiling water
3 tablespoons of barberries
Sauté the chicken breast in a little olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, until golden and almost cooked. Cut up into large bit-sized pieces.
Cook the rice in boiling water until almost, but not quite, cooked. A grain squished between your thumb and forefinger should have a chalky inside. Drain.
Beat together the yoghurt, egg, saffron and its water, and salt and pepper.
Mix the chicken into the yoghurt mixture to coat, then remove the chicken to a plate.
Mix the rice with the yoghurt mixture.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot with a lid over a low heat with a coating of olive oil. Tip the rice and yoghurt mixture into the pot and push the rice up the sides to make a shell. Sprinkle half the barberries over the bottom layer of rice-yoghurt then add the chicken pieces then the rest of the barberries. Cover with the rice from the sides and push down gently to even the mixture. Cover and cook slowly on a low heat for about an hour or until the top feels nice and hot. Turn out onto a plate or into a shallow bowl to serve.
Warm Pumpkin and Silverbeet Salad
serves 4 with the Barberryani
1/4 of a large pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed
salt and pepper
3 large leaves of silverbeet (or a couple of handfuls of spinach), shredded
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
Black or normal sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Toss the pumpkin with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes or until soft and caramelising. Meanwhile toss the shredded silverbeet with the garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Tip the hot cooked pumpkin onto the silverbeet and toss to combine. Cover with a plate and leave aside until the silverbeet has wilted and the pumpkin is warm. Taste and add more oil, lemon, or salt and pepper before serving sprinkled with sesame seeds.