Sometimes you just need a little side dish that makes a standard meat and three veg meal a tad more special. Years ago a friend gave me a packet of Israeli cous-cous and it was the recipe on the back of the packet that inspired this risoni (or orzo) dish. If you’re unfamiliar with risoni, the (Australian) way to understand this carbohydrate is ‘pasta in the shape of rice’ and it can be found in the pasta section of most supermarkets. This not-at-all-spicy dish is really quite fast to make: you can get it going quickly and then reduce it to the absorption stage, which provides all the time you need to whack on whatever meat and vegetables you might be having, in this case, chicken sausages and steamed vegetables. And there’s no reason why this must be a side dish and not the main dish – just add some panfried pieces of chicken breast, a handful of freshly chopped parsley and some vegetables of your choice and you’ve got a dead-easy, one frypan main course – done. Using the ingredients and quantities below, this dish costs about $1.50 and serves 4 adult x 1 cup portions of risoni.
- blob of butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup risoni
- 1 cup chicken stock (I use powdered stock and water)
- 2 teaspoons tumeric
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped (though you can see from my picture I omitted it for the sake of my kids who aren’t so keen).
- Melt butter in a small frypan with a lid and add onion. Cook at a low temperature until onion is clear and soft. Add risoni and stir thoroughly to coat in the butter and onion mixture.
- Add chicken stock and stir carefully, adding in tumeric and cumin powder. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, place lid on the pan, and allow everything to cook and absorb for at least 20 minutes.
- Just before serving, season with salt and pepper and toss parsley in too. Enjoy!
My friend Cathy is a great example of someone who practices hospitality. She knows how to make food taste good and she cares for others by unashamedly choosing do-able meals that aren’t trying to impress, but instead hit the spot in ways that don’t break the bank. Recently Cathy sent me a number of her favourite recipes that do all these things and I’m excited to share the first of these with you. The Butter Chicken recipe that follows is delightfully easy – choose to cook this crowd pleasing favourite in either the slow cooker or in a sealed casserole dish for a few hours in the oven. Doubling the measurements listed below neatly fills a 5.5L slow cooker, and doing so is my favourite time saver, fulfilling more than one purpose with just one venture in the kitchen. If you decide to make extra to freeze, here’s a tip I read in a magazine years ago: spray the inside of plastic containers with olive or canola spray before filling. This will create a film that protects the containers from the stain of the red coloured sauce. The quantities that follow serves 10 people and costs under $15 to make.
- I kg chicken thighs, chopped into chunks
- I onion, roughly chopped
- I jar of Patak’s Butter Chicken paste (not the sauce)
- I x 400g tin of diced or crushed tomatoes
- I x 420g tin of chickpeas, drained
- 150ml cream
- Handful of chopped coriander
- Brown chicken and onion in frypan.
- Put in a slow cooker or a heavy based casserole dish (covered) with the whole jar of butter chicken paste, tin of tomatoes and chickpeas.
- Cook for 2 hours in the oven, or 3 hours on high in the slow cooker or most of the day if set to low.
- Season with salt and pepper and add cream and coriander just before serving.
- Serve with basmati rice and microwaved pappadums.
- Raita (natural yoghurt mixed with grated or chopped cucumber) is also a yummy accompaniment.
Recently a friend posted this yummy recipe on my facebook wall and tonight I tried it out. Before finishing his second mouthful my husband asked me to make it again soon! As promised, this Biryani recipe originally from Super Food Ideas was dead easy to make and the smell of it that permeated the house whilst cooking was divine. Including the yoghurt but not the pappadums, this meal cost an affordable $11 to make 4 large serves, though you could use less chicken to make it cheaper if required. Thanks Katrina, for this terrific contribution.
- 750g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
- 1/2 cup Tikka Masala curry paste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup thick Greek-style yoghurt
- 1/3 cup mint leaves
- 8 small pappadums, cooked, to serve
- Combine chicken and curry paste in a ceramic bowl. Cover. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight if time permits (I didn’t have time to do this and didn’t pre-marinate at all. It was still good!)
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat oil and butter in a frying pan over medium heat until sizzling. Add onions. Cook for 15 minutes or until caramelised. Transfer chicken to an 8-cup capacity ovenproof casserole dish. Spoon onions over chicken.
- Place rice into a sieve. Rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Sprinkle rice evenly over onions. Place stock into a microwave-safe jug. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 2 minutes or until hot. Pour stock over the back of a metal spoon over rice. Cover with foil then cover with a lid. Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes or until rice is tender (Start checking from 1 hour – mine didn’t need nearly as long as this). Season with salt and pepper.
- Place yoghurt into a bowl. Finely chop 2 tablespoons of mint leaves. Stir through yoghurt. Spoon biryani into bowls. Top with yoghurt mixture and remaining mint leaves. Serve with pappadums.