If you’re going to make rice, do it right—this rice is so good, it almost killed my neighbor. Isaac is my 70-year-old Israeli buddy who lives downstairs. He’s the most tactless man in the world. If I gain weight: “Ed-zie, you fat, why?” If I lose weight: “Look good, strong man. I was like this at your age.” And then the oddball zingers: “Grow mustache, not too much, but nice. Your wife would like this on you. Why she never speak Hebrew with me? I know she know.”
One day we’re chatting away in the lobby and he says, “You, chef, what you eat today?” I told him I had a lot of leftover rice, so I made a cross between mujadara and Persian rice. His sour expression made it clear that I didn’t know what I was talking about, but he took some home anyway. Two hours later, he’s banging on my door, telling me it’s the best rice he’s had in his life and I have to teach his wife how to make it. He actually smiled as said my “Arab Rice” reminded him of his childhood, that it was like the food he grew up with—“but better”. It was the single best reaction anyone has ever had to my cooking. Except two days later Isaac had a massive stroke (but that won’t happen to you).
2 cups Basmati rice
4 cups vegetable broth
Punch (not a pinch) of salt
2 onions, medium dice
½ lb mushrooms (whatever kind you have) chopped
¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries
½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
1 T cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ bunch Dill Fronds, finely chopped
Kale chip for garnish
1- Cover the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the rice and salt. Stir to coat rice with oil. When the rice begins to make a sizzling sound add the stock.
2- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to the lowest point, cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Keep covered and remove from heat.
3- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over a med-high flame. Add onion and salt. Stir to combine. Cook until milk chocolate brown (approx. 30 minutes. I know it’s a long time, but it’s TOTALLY worth it. The key to unlocking the awesomeness of this dish is carmelizing the onions) stirring frequently.
4- Add mushrooms, almonds, raisins, cumin and coriander to the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are browned and it smells like nuts.
5- Combine the rice and onion mixture in the saucepan, make sure to scrape the sauté pan well to get all the brown bits.
6- Over low heat, stir in the dill until all the ingredients are combined.
7- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
8- Top with a kale chip, it’ll look more presentable.
KALE CHIPS ARE NO BIG DEAL. You can buy then in any supermarket or just tear up some kale, coat it with olive oil, hit it with salt and pepper and put it in a 350F oven until it turns from leaf into chip.
Photo from one of my favorite chefs to work with, Alexis Colantonio of Pure Natural Kitchen (http://www.purenaturalkitchen.com/)