Smokey Chilli and Lemon Rice with Lemon zest yogurt
I think the best recipes come out of slight accidents in the kitchen and come from spur of the moment ideas. The sun was shining and the bowl of lemons in my kitchen looked too lovely to resist so I had to immediately incorporate them into my lunch. I felt like having something gently spiced, but as was measuring the chilli powder, my hand slipped and I added much more than I had originally wanted.
But as I say, some of the best things come from accidents and coating the rice in oil flavoured with lots chilli and garlic gave it a great smoky heat and the lovely lemons gave the dish a really summery flavour, making it a perfect lunch for a sunny day.
heaped teaspoon of hot chilli powder
two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
half a cup of basmati rice
two tablespoons of natural yogurt
a pinch of sugar
a teaspoon of fresh young thyme
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add a few long strips of lemon peel, making sure you are only peeling the fragrant yellow outer layer rather than the bitter white pith, the chilli powder and the garlic. Turn these around in the hot oil until you can smell the lemon, garlic and chilli and then tip in the rice. Stir the rice about in the oil so that every grain gets coated in the flavoured oil. Season the rice and then pour over a cup of boiling water, bring the pan to the boil. As soon as the rice boils, turn the heat right down and cover over with a lid and gently simmer for thirteen minutes.
Whilst the rice is cooking, you can make the lemon zest yogurt. With the rice being heavily spiced with chilli, it’s nice to balance it with something cooling, fresh and slightly sweet. Zest the rest of the lemon, again making sure that you’re only using the lemon peel and not the white bitter pith, and add this to the yogurt. Add a pinch of sugar, a little salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. It should taste slightly sour and really lemony so feel free to tweak the seasoning if you need to. I topped my yogurt with a little more lemon zest.
Check on the rice after it’s been cooking for twelve minutes and serve it up when it’s cooked but while it still has a slight bite. Finish the rice with a sprinkling of salt, lemon zest and a few young thyme leaves. Enjoy (hopefully outside in the sunshine)