Healthy New Year

These delicious recipes will help you come out of your post-Xmas blues and feel great about yourself

Posted: 01.01.15

Following the festive period of lazing around and over-indulgence, the first few weeks of the new year is the perfect time to eat healthy, detox, get fit, feel good about yourself and start making those resolutions a reality! Luxurious Amira rice have come up with some mouth-watering recipes filled with goodness, which are sure to motivate you in maintaining a healthier regime. Basmati rice has many health benefits as the main ingredient for a meal compared to other carbohydrates, since it is gluten free, helps reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Used by Michelin star chefs in top restaurants world-wide, the impressive extra-long grains of Amira rice will contribute to the flavour and taste of your meal, with it's superb quality, aromatic fragrance and fluffiness.

Amira Beet-leaf Dolmades with Beetroot & Walnut Tzatziki
A beautiful take on traditional dolmades, beet leaves are softer than vine leaves and taste similar to spinach. Now in season, try to find leaves that are free from holes and about the size of your hand. If you can only find smaller leaves, not to worry just layer two or three smaller leaves together to make a bigger one. A new and exciting skill to learn in 2015!

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes 
Serves 4 

What You Need

For the filling:
150 g Amira Indian basmati rice
75 g Halloumi cheese, grated
4 Spring Onions, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
 zest of 1 Large Lemon
 small Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
 small Handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 pinch Chilli flakes (to taste)
30 g Pine Nuts
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
 Salt and freshly ground pepper

To prepare the beetroot leaves:
15 large Beetroot leaves, stalks trimmed to the leaf
1 lemon, sliced
300 ml Boiling water or Stock
3 tbsp Olive Oil
4 Bay leaves (fresh or dried)

For the Beetroot & Walnut Tzatziki:
50 g Walnuts
2 cooked Beetroot, roughly chopped
2 cl Garlic, crushed
100 g Greek Yoghurt
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Handful of chopped mint
Juice of half a lemon, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the uncooked rice, halloumi, spring onions, garlic, lemon zest, mint and parsley. Stir through the olive oil and season to taste with chilli flakes and salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2. In a small frying pan, toast the pinenuts until they are golden brown, then tip into the rice mixture. Add the fennel seeds to the frying pan and toast for just 30 seconds or so, until you can smell their aroma wafting up from the pan. Tip into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind before stirring through the rice mixture. Set aside.

3. Spread out the beetroot leaves in a large deep frying pan and pour over some boiling water until they are well covered. Blanch over a high heat for just a minute before draining and running under cold water to stop cooking any further. Heat a large pan of water (about 1/3 full) and bring to the boil. Place the leaves in the water and leave for one minute before pouring them carefully into a colander and running cold water on them to stop them cooking. Drain well.

4. On a clean work surface or board carefully flatten out one beetroot leaf with the stalk end pointing towards you. Place a generous dessert spoonful of the rice mixture in a sausage shape about 1 inch from the bottom of the leaf and fold the edges in. Fold the bottom of the leaf up and around the filling and tuck it in. Carefully roll the parcel up so that is resembles a small cigar. If any holes appear or you have a torn leaf you can patch it with some of the spare leaves. Continue until you have 12 stuffed leaves.

5. Place any spare leaves and the sliced lemon and bay leaves in a large saucepan with a lid. Carefully arrange the stuffed leaves over the top of the lemon and pour over the boiling water or stock and olive oil. Place a small plate on top of the leaves to weigh them down, place the lid on the pan and cook over a very low heat for 40 minutes. Check one stuffed leaf to make sure the rice is cooked. Remove the stuffed leaves with tongs and set aside to cool.

6. Whilst the dolmades are cooling, make the tzatziki. Add the walnuts to a small frying pan and toast over a medium heat for a couple of minutes then tip into a food processor and grind to coarse crumbs. Add the beetroot, garlic, yogurt, olive oil and mint and blitz to a smooth puree. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper and spoon into a small serving dish.

7. Serve the dolmades warm or cold with the tzatziki.

Moroccan Rice Salad with Harissa Chicken, Apricots and Chickpeas
Specially created from Amira rice by highly acclaimed food writer and author, Genevieve Taylor.

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes 
Serves 6 

What You Need

For the Harissa chicken:
1 heaped tsp caraway seeds
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
50 g roast red peppers (from a jar) or 1 small red bell pepper, roasted and chopped
100 g long red chillies
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp tomato puree
6 chicken thigh fillets
salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
300 g Amira Pure Basmati Rice
1 tsp sunflower oil
400 g tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
150 g dried apricots, roughly chopped
60 g flaked almonds, roasted
1 bunch flatleaf parsley, chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper

What to do

1. To make the harissa paste, dry fry the caraway and cumin seeds in a small pan for a couple of minutes. As soon as you smell their aroma wafting up from the pan, tip into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind. Add to a food processor along with the peppers, chillies, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and tomato puree. Process until smooth and season to taste with salt, pepper and a splash more vinegar if necessary. Use half this paste to spread over the chicken fillets and set them aside in the fridge to marinate for an hour or more, overnight would be fine if you have the time.

2. When you are ready to make the salad, rinse the Amira rice under running cold water and add to a bowl. Cover well with cold water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well. Heat a little oil in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Once it is hot, tip in the drained rice and stir fry for 30 seconds to coat each grain lightly in oil. Pour in boiling water from the kettle so that it comes just 1 centimeter above the level of the rice. Stir well and bring up to the boil. Cover with the lid and set the timer to boil for just one minute. Turn off the heat and, without removing the lid, reset the timer for 13 minutes. Remove the lid and fork through the rice grains which will have absorbed all the water and become light and fluffy.

3. Whilst the rice is cooking, heat a griddle pan, or BBQ, until smoking hot and cook the chicken fillets on both sides until done - about 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness. Remove and chop into bite sized pieces. 

4. Add the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl and stir through the cooked chicken, chickpeas, spring onions, apricots and toasted almonds and parsley. Add extra harissa and salt and pepper to taste. If you feel it is a little dry but has enough of a spice kick, simply add a little more olive oil.

5. Serve this salad freshly made whilst still warm, or chill until required and eat within 24 hours of making.

Tunisian Tomato Rice with Chermoula Fish
Specially created from Amira rice by highly acclaimed food writer and author, Genevieve Taylor.

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes 
Serves 6

What You Need

For the tomato rice:
300 g Amira Pure Basmati Rice
400 g tin chopped tomatoes
450 ml vegetable stock
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Chermoula fish:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp preserved lemon skin, finely chopped
1.5 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
 salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
500 g skinless boneless white fish (cod, haddock or pollack), cut into portions
a little olive oil to shallow fry

What to do

1. Rinse the Amira rice under running water and drain well. Tip into a bowl and stir through the tomatoes and vegetable stock. Set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Whilst the rice is soaking, make the chermoula paste by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Lay the fish on a plate and rub the chermoula all over. Cover and set aside in the fridge to marinate.

3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion over a medium low heat for around 15 minutes until starting to soften and become lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute before pouring in the soaked rice and tomato mixture, stirring well. Season with a little salt and pepper and bring up to the boil, cover with a tight fitting lid or snuggly tucked piece of foil and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, without removing the lid, and set the timer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and fork through the rice, which should be perfectly cooked and there should be no liquid left. If it is still a touch wet, recover and leave for a further 5 minutes. Rest, covered, whilst you cook the fish.

4. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, preferably a non stick one. When it is hot, add the fish fillets, cooking them without turning to allow a delicious crust develop, for 3 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for 2-3 minutes the other side. If your fish fillets are particularly thick you may need to cook a little longer.

5. To serve, spoon the rice on plates and top with the fish. Garnish with a scattering of coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Fariha Sabir

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