Athena Lamberis

Posts Tagged ‘main dish’

Rooibos Rice with Smoked Paprika Mussels (Quick Paella-wanna-be)

In Recipe on December 1, 2010 at 12:03

Rooibos Rice with Paella-inspired flavours

I thought to myself, ‘How can I make a rice dish a little more interesting?’ So I started with the idea of color and decided to use all ‘red’ coloured ingredients in my kitchen. So first off, I made rooibos (redbush) tea-flavoured water to steam my brown rice.  I also took flavours commonly found in paella and used deliciously red: smoked paprika, cayenne, tomato paste, and red peppers, to add to the dish. The recipe goes a lil something like this:

2 cups of brown rice

4 cups water

4 rooibos teabags

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 green pepper

1 medium carrot

half a red pepper

1 cup of rooibos tea

120 g tomato paste

170 g smoked mussels

Olive Oil

2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 TB smoked paprika

4 artichoke hearts

parsley for garnish



Boil 4 cups water and add 4 bags of Rooibos tea. Add rice and reduce heat to a simmer.

In a deep large frying pan, cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil and let it heat on medium for 1 minute.  Add slices of onion and grated garlic and let them cook until soft and brown.  Add smoked paprika, cayenne pepper with salt and pepper to taste.  I accidentally added cayenne as if it were paprika and the flavour and spiciness was awesome, so don’t be afraid to add more heat if you can handle it.  Add the mussels and slices of carrot, green and red pepper to the oil and let them sit in the oil for minute.

Make a cup of roobis tea and mix the hot tea and tomato paste together in a bowl.  Add this mixture to the pan and stir.  When the rice is fully cooked, add the cooked rice to the frying pan mixture and stir in all the flavours together on a low heat.  Add the artichoke hearts and the fresh parsley for garnish and serve hot.  If there are left-overs be prepared for delicious marinated flavours dancing on your tongue-so much yummier than cold pizza…

Tip 1: If you can’t find little cans of smoked mussels, subsitute with smoked oysters, smoked sausage or smoked tofu.

Always consider flavouring your water when making rice.  Try jasmine tea or cinnamon sticks, anise or fennel!

Vegetarian Bobotie

In Recipe on September 29, 2010 at 16:10


spiced bobotie in the oven


This layered oven-baked dish is a reflection of  the histories, cultures, and cuisines that flavour the peninsula of Cape Town.  The roots of the spices used in traditional recipes come from Cape Malay cuisine but is easy to make your own Bobotie-inspired dish with the flavours and ingredients in your own kitchen, celebrating the truth of cultural-pluralism in our food language.


So I'm not photogenic but I'm layered with goodness


The meditative quality that cooking can give when we take the time and patience with real foods and combine their chemistry is a unifying cultural practice.  Food speaks a unifying language. Everything takes time to communicate.  Bobotie speaks a Cape Malay history, a strong culture alive in South African food and community combining the diversity and strength fully reflected in the flavours of the dishes served spicy hot in neighborhoods all around Cape Town.


2 slices of hearty bread

1/2 c. milk

1 cup of cooked rice/wild rice/lentil mix

1 chopped onion

1 tomato

2 garlic cloves

half grated carrot

half grated apple

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1 TB mild yellow curry powder

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 half teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cinnamon

handful of raisins

2 heaping spoonfuls of smooth apricot jam

pinch paprika and tumeric

salt and pepper to taste

oil to coat the dish


2 TB yoghurt

Soak the bread in milk and 1 tsp ginger. Fry the garlic, onion and left over grated ginger in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add carrots and fry until softened.  Mix in the curry powder and garam masala. Add all other ingredients in the pan and fry together until well mixed and distributed.  In an oven dish line the bottom with the soaked bread.  Layer the ingredients in the pan on top. Beat 1 egg and yoghurt with a pinch of paprika and turmeric and pour on top.  Bake until golden brown on top at 180 C.

Tip 1: Spices don’t last forever.  There are lots of theories on how to maintain their freshness but one that does not fail is to just use them.  Experiment and trust your intuition. Don’t be afraid, especially in a dish like bobotie known for combining wonderful spices.  Entertain yourself with spice alchemy and put that spice cupboard to work.

Tip 2: Substitute the rice mix with mashed chickpeas, white beans, or mince. If you have random beans or grains in your cupboard like millet, buckwheat or quinoa, be bold and mix them together and create a complex grain mix.  Just be mindful that each grain may have different cooking times so add them to the water accordingly.

Tip 3: Clean out your lingering grains in your cupboard by making a mix that amounts to what is needed.  Give the 3 TB of brown rice and 1/2 c. white rice and some red lentils some freedom and speak your own dialect of bobotie.

Tip 4: Leftover bobotie?  Slice brie and place on top of the bobotie. Pour apricot jam over the top and bake in your oven over high heat.  Bake brie on anything if you have to eat leftovers and you won’t look at leftovers the same.


Brie and Leftovers are best friends


Rice and Beans

In Recipe on September 12, 2010 at 18:06

The staple diet of beautifully steamed rice and refried or hot steamy black beans is a comfort food and can be eaten with most anything.  I also love a raw salsa as a salad and I picked four vegetables I had in my fridge and chopped them up in a processor.

Using what you have in the fridge helps with overall kitchen groceries management, learning how to get creative with recipes you see and adapting them to your available resources without making a special trip to the store makes cooking SO much easier.  Doing this helps clean out your fridge and lands fresh veggies onto your plate rather than going limp in your produce drawer, poor carrots.  Add cumin, cilantro, lemon, onion and salt and your taste buds will recognize the pungent flava flav, no matter what vegetables you added.


1 cup Rice

1 cup Black beans (soak over night)

half carrot

1 tomato

half red pepper

half yellow pepper

half red onion

Juice of one lemon

half TB of Cumin

handful of cilantro (dhania)

salt and pepper to taste

Boil beans in water with a slice of lemon and bay leaves until soft and drain the liquid. Heat two cups of water with 1 cup rice in a pot until at boiling point and lower the heat to a simmer until water has been absorbed. Just when the water has been absorbed, add 2 TB of oil and cover the pot with a lid.  This will give you a crunchy fried rice at the bottom of the pot which is scrumptious eaten when scooped out and served  with soft smooth beans.

Chop the onion, carrot, tomato and peppers in a food processor to the desired size, on pulse.  Add lemon juice, chopped cilantro, cumin and salt and pepper to taste to the mixture. This will be the rainbow salsa to your rice and beans.  Add tortilla chips to your rice, bean and salsa dish to use as edible utensils.  Garnish with fresh chopped chili peppers or sprinkle chipolte powder.

Tip 1: Grate your favorite mild cheese, queso fresco or white cheddar and fry the cooked beans with the cheese and serve it over rice garnished with the salsa.

Tip 2: Soak a whole bag of beans overnight and boil. Drain the beans and save the bean broth for a soup or as a base to other dishes that require a seasoned broth. Set aside a cup of beans for your dish and store the rest in freezer tight packaging for other rice and bean nights.  This way you will have ready to go beans that can be quickly defrosted in hot water and heated with cheese, yum!  So quick and easy to enjoy your comfort food.

Tip 3: As long as you have lemon, cumin, and onion you can make any type of raw salsa that speaks to your tongue.  Substitute one of the raw vegetables in the recipe with cucumber, cabbage, green apple, celery, green pepper, beet, or chayote

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