I mentioned in the previous post that I partnered my spinach with some zesty rice, and oh-my-dear-goodness-gracious-have-mercy-on-us-all-and-then-some, was it zesty! This was a bold attempt for me because rice has never been my strong suit, and only recently have I gained enough confidence in its creation to even consider messing around with it, especially without enlisting the guidance of a tried-and-true recipe of some sort.
But that was the point after all, to try something new and just my own, to see how I would fare. That is how we learn, and trust me I learned a few things here. First mistake: use basmati, not jasmine rice. I admit I wasn’t actually paying attention to which canister I pulled out when I prepared my rice, and that made it way too sticky for my liking. Chalk it up to a learning experience. And a fun one too, because anytime we can engage our mind in a creative venture, no matter how simple or complex, that’s a winning point for us.
So here lies my first attempt at Lemon Garlic Rice with Paneer. Haha… what was I thinking??
- 1 cup BASMATI rice
- Juice of ¼ to ½ a lemon
- Zest of ¼ a lemon
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 3 more garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 tsp salt
- Cubed paneer (South Asian cheese)
- Coriander leaves, for garnish
- Crushed black pepper, for garnish
So how many times have you made rice in chicken stock or veggie stock, for various rice dishes from around the world? It is a very quick and basic step to adding flavor, so in that vein, I did the same with lemon and garlic. In a large pot of water, I squeezed in the lemon juice and some lemon zest (though I fear I put too much, it was REALLY lemony… so aim only for up to half a lemon’s juice). I also added the sliced garlic, which ended up being a delicious munchie addition the rice too. Add the salt and rinse your rice for a few short minutes before adding it to the boiling pot, bringing it to a boil once more before reducing the temperature.
Once the rice has been cooked perfectly as you like it, drain it in a colander and return to the pot. Separately heat a frying pan with some oil on low-medium heat, frying the paneer cubes on all sides so they get a crisp golden color. Also add the chopped garlic to this, to enhance the flavor of the paneer as well as add a stronger garlic taste to the rice. This should take a few minutes, after which pour all these contents into your rice, mixing and incorporating the flavors all together. Garnish with the pepper and coriander leaves, and BAM! That was my rice.
I already know some variations I will do next time—perhaps fry the rice quickly first in some oil and garlic before boiling in water—but still, all things considered this turned out pretty good. And most importantly, the husband gobbled it up. We discussed areas for improvement, but both decided it was a fun excursion into an area I typically avoid.