Thursday, July 4

Basmati & Lentil Pilaf, Fried Halloumi, Crispy Onions, Tahini Dressing

We have been slowly moving onto a new, more modern menu at the pub. Light, creative plates of food that focus on seasonality but are not necessarily constrained to British dishes or flavours. Creating interesting vegetarian dishes that don't rely solely on the old stalwarts of risotto or goats cheese is hard work for a die hard meat eater like me. 

Whenever I'm stuck for ideas, I turn to the Middle East or Asia for inspiration and Yotam Ottolenghi is never one to disappoint. The pilaf here is his recipe, the other additions are my own - for two:

For the pilaf:
Basmati - 150g
Green lentils - 100g
Ground corriander & cumin - 1 tsp of each
Ground turmeric, all spice, salt & ground black pepper - 1/2 tsp of each
Marigold vegetable bouillion powder - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 4 cloves
Butter - 50g

The rest:
1 medium onion - peeled and finely sliced
Plain flour for dusting
Halloumi - 250g
Fresh Coriander - 1 small bunch, chopped
Extra virgin oil - a glug
Tahini - 2 tbsp
Juice of 1 lemon
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Boil the lentils in water until tender but not falling apart - maybe 15 mins. Drain and set aside. Gently heat the butter and fry the garlic until lightly golden. Measure the volume of the rice in a container and then measure out twice the volume of water. Add the spices and salt to the garlicky butter and gently cook out for a minute or two. Add the rice and bouillion powder and toss in the spiced butter. Add the measured water, mix well and cover the rice with parchment and then a lid. Set on a very low simmer for 12 to 15 mins until the rice is cooked - you may want to stir it a couple of times to stop it sticking, replacing the parchment and lid each time. When the rice is just cooked, take off the heat and leave to steam for 10 mins. 

Meanwhile toss the onions in a little flour until just coated. Heat 2cm of oil in a wide frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until crispy and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. To make the tahini dressing mix the tahini with a little water until you have the consistency of single cream. Season and add lemon juice to taste.

Pan fry slices of the halloumi until golden on both sides. Add the lentils to the rice and mix to separate the grains. Pile the rice onto warm plates, drizzle with the tahini dressing and extra virgin. Top with halloumi, crispy onions and fresh chopped coriander.

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