Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dill Rice Revisited

The laws of diminishing returns reckoned without me and leftovers. How is it that you struggle daily to finish a battalion of leftovers, so that you can actually have space in your fridge for important things like chocolate, and instead of putting a dent in them, you end up with more leftovers?

I have been conscientiously cooking with leftovers for almost two weeks now and somehow, I end up with more leftovers than before. How is this possible? Are there some misguided and confused gremlins in my fridge?

I’d cooked a pot of
Stephzi Polow (dill rice for the uninitiated) last night to use up all my withering dill. My fridge protested this latest encroachment so today I decided to make a layered rice dish using the leftover Stephzi Polow and some leftover mince I found right at the back of the freezer. I then realised I had the whites of 2 eggs leftover from making some pastry earlier in the day. Despite slight misgivings, I decided to use it in the mince.

Somehow I had the idea to make a spiced mince to layer with the rice which I had left fairly untouched in order to preserve the burnt crust at the bottom – the highly prized portion of Sabzi Polow.

Layered Dill Rice
Stephzi Polow

1 cup of minced beef
½ onion, sliced into semi-circle rings
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1½ tsp ground cumin
Pinch of ground turmeric
Pinch of ground coriander
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 – 1 ½ tsp salt
6 - 8 huge dashes of black pepper powder
A little chicken stock

1. Heat the oil and add the garlic and onions and sauté till fragrant

2. Add the mince and sauté for about 30 seconds

3. Add the egg whites and sauté briskly

4. Add all the spices and seasoning and cook till well mixed

5. Scrap the loose dill rice from the pan of Stephzi Polow and set aside sans a thin layer, leaving the burnt crust intact and at the bottom

6. Spread a thin layer of the mince on top and level out

7. Spread a thin layer of the dill rice over the mince and level out

8. Continue layering thus – I managed three layers and the final layer was the rice

9. Sprinkle a little chicken stock over the rice

10. Here’s the part where some people would sneer. I zapped the entire pot , covered, in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes on high. I have one of those microwaves which has a slow cook function.

12. Dish out the layered rice, making sure to place the burnt crust on top

The dish was fairly tasty but not outstanding. There are a number of things I would improve. The most important is the base of Stephzi Polow. As I realised last night when I tasted it, I need to be less conservative and add more butter. The mince was a little dry because of the egg white which absorbed any hint of liquid and refused to relinquish it back into the rice. Well, I used it only because I did not want to chuck it away so it served its purpose. Next time I will either omit it from the mince or add a whole egg so that the egg yolk can lend some creaminess to the dish.

I might also be more lavish with the spices next time. Again, I was cautious of over-spicing it for fear of overshadowing the dill but in hindsight, I think this was a needless worry. Overall, I give the dish a 7/10 for taste and a 6.5/10 for health, only because I added a side dish of spinach. I served a simply sautéd spinach and garlic side dish with the layered rice. All I did was heat a little olive oil in the same pan in which I cooked the mince and threw in some garlic and spinach to sauté till just cooked through.

I felt rather carbo-ed out at the end of the meal so I ate a couple of Mandarin oranges and drank a tall glass of well-chilled orange juice. Tomorrow I work out. All these leftovers are making me put on weight. And I've hardly made a dent in my fridge. The horror … the horror …

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