Rice pudding with cardamon and rosewater

A wonderful desert that is easy to make and just perfect if you have some leftover rice. The taste is a delight, like walking in a scented garden.

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I used cooked rice with raisins. The raisins can be added during the preparation if you prefer, and dates as well.

For one cup of prepared rice with raisins:
1- Place the rice in a large pot and cover with milk. (I only use whole milk) Bring to the point of boiling, then lower the flame.
[At this point you can add some raisins and/or dates cut in small pieces.]
2- Add a pinch of salt, the seeds of seven cardamon pods and half a cup of brown sugar, or less if you prefer (you can always add some later). You can replace the brown sugar with honey as well (maple syrup might change the taste too much). Use less honey as it has a “sweeter” taste than brown sugar.
3- Mix from time to time while it cooks. Let it cook for about 20 minutes.
4- Add one tablespoon of rosewater at the very end and mix.

Place in the fridge. It should be eaten cold.

Arugula salad with mango chutney

Sharing our Friday lunch. A delight filled with colours and taste!

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1- Just place gently in a deep plate: arugula, mango, papaya and avocado. All should be fresh and if possible organic.
2- Sprinkle with: fresh ginger root grated, fresh cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and a few blackberries.
3- Place a tablespoon of mango chutney (recipe here), and enjoy with fresh bread or oven-baked corn tostadas.

Rice and lentils with dates and raisins

Rice with lentils is one of those dishes that in any culture, brings the memory of home whether you call it Addas polo in Farsi or Arroz con lentejas in Spanish. Here is a most delicious Iranian version with a topping of onion, dates and raisins. The sweet and sour combination is a delight.

The original recipe as seen in this book, calls for cooking the lentils and the rice together, and for adding walnuts. Here I have not used walnuts thinking that it would make the dish too heavy, and I cooked the rice and lentils separately. I also changed a few spices.

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For the lentils
1- Wash one and half cup of brown lentils and let them soak in water. Since San Miguel is almost 2’000 meters in altitude and it takes longer for anything to cook, I let them soak all night.
2- In a large pot, place some olive oil, one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of cilantro seeds crushed, a little bit of cinnamon grated, one teaspoon of turmeric, one teaspoon of black pepper crushed and some fresh ginger root smashed or grated. When the spices start giving their aroma, add the lentils with the water and add more water to make sure all the lentils are covered.
3- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are done. About 25 minutes.

For the date and raisin topping
1- Slice half a red onion in very thin slices. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and a little bit of flour.
2- In a small pan, place a little bit of oil and fry the onion slices until they take a gold color. Add a handful of golden raisins and a handful of dates previously cut in small chunks.
3- Mix well and allow the mix to cook on very low fire (so it does not burn) for about 10 minutes.

For the rice
1- Cook one and half cups of Basmati rice as you would normally do.
2- When the cooking is done, take half a cup of the cooked rice and mix it with three tablespoons of Saffron liquid (recipe here). Return the now yellow rice to the white rice and mix.

To serve: place the rice is a bowl; add the lentils then some of the date and raisin topping. Place a bowl with yoghurt, cumin, fresh mint and cucumbers on the side.

Saffron, lime and yoghurt marinated chicken

Another delight with saffron inspired by a recipe in this book “The Saffron Tales”!

I served it with potato Kuku (recipe here) and a yoghurt salad with cucumber and mint (recipe here, minus the garlic, as there is enough of it with the chicken). I used free range chicken and it was delicious!

I prepared the chicken in cubes from breast filets, and you can also prepare this dish with chicken parts (with bones and skin). The trick to make it really tender is to let it marinate for at least four hours. In my case, I leave it all night, preparing it just before I go to bed and cooking it in time for lunch.

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For two filets of chicken breast
1- Prepare the chicken: cut and clean, and set aside. If you are making it with whole pieces, make sure you discard the excess fat and place some cuts in the meat so that it takes in the marinade.
2- In a bowl mix: three quarters of a cup of Greek styled yoghurt, two garlic cloves crushed, a teaspoon of brown sugar (this helps bring all the flavours together), half a teaspoon of turmeric, the juice of one lime, two tablespoons of Saffron liquid (recipe here), two tablespoons of light olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste.
3- Place the chicken pieces in a glass (not plastic!) container and make sure they are all well coated. Cover and place in the fridge. As I wrote earlier, let it stand for at least four hours.
4- In an oven baking dish, place the chicken pieces without any excess yoghurt sauce, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes in a 180º c. oven. Mix from time to time so that the pieces cook evenly. All the liquid should have evaporated by the time it is done.

Serve topped with freshly chopped cilantro, accompanied by rice or potatoes, and a nice cucumber salad.

Tomato jam

Yes! Jam with tomatoes! A Mediterranean treat that is so tasty and so easy to make!

It is best served with bread and white cheese. It is most delicious with a smoked cheese, or one similar to Manchego. Personally, I like it simply with Panela. Try it any way you want and serve it as an aperitif or a snack. It will make everyone smile!

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For 500 gr. of tomatoes (one jar of jam)
1- The first thing is to peal the tomatoes. For that, place the tomatoes, preferably medium size and organic, in boiling water for five minutes. Take them out and cut a small line in their skin with a sharp knife. Let them cool enough to be handled.
2- The rest of the process I love to do it by hand, feeling the texture of the tomatoes and wishing well to the ones of cultivated them and the ones who shall eat them. For each tomato:
– Peal it with your hand, cut out the green stem with a knife, then squeeze out gently the seeds and liquid.
– Then squeeze the tomato on top of the cooking pot letting the pulp come out from the sides of your hand.  (alternatively, just cut it in small cubes).
3- In the pot add: one and half teaspoon of freshly crushed black pepper, a generous pinch of salt, a tiny dash of cinnamon (I just scraped a cinnamon stick lightly three of four times) and 220 gr of sugar.
4- Bring the tomato mix to a boil and mix constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes. Most of the liquid should have evaporated. Keep on mixing so that it does not stick to the pan. Even if you see some pinkish foam, just keep on mixing it will eventually blend with the rest.
5- Finally, place in a sterilised jar. Place in the fridge once it has cooled. It can stay up to three months.