By Freya Bellin
This dish is wonderfully flavorful, blending sweet-tart apples, nutty brown rice, and spicy coconut curry. As promised, it really is hands-off, and the results are fantastic. By cooking the dry rice before adding liquid it becomes extra nutty, plus it gets well coated with the curry- and ginger-infused oil. The coconut milk is subtle but crucial to the creaminess of the dish, and the shredded coconut adds a nice toasty element throughout. Once mixed in, give the apples some time to soften up—they will cook significantly and taste best when warmed all the way through. You can certainly play around with variations on this recipe, maybe swapping out the apples for raisins or pineapple, or some combination. Try topping it with plain Greek yogurt for extra creaminess.
I did some improvising with the cooking technique in this recipe, and instead of using an oven-proof pan, I cooked everything in a large skillet up until it was ready for the oven. At that point, I transferred it to a small glass Pyrex dish and covered it with aluminum foil. The dish still came out great, so don’t be deterred if you don’t have the right cookware. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Baked Curried Rice with Apples and Coconut
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended
Baked brown rice is mostly hands-off—no fussing or checking for doneness, just a relaxing, undisturbed 45 minutes in the oven. Your reward for doing next to nothing is a pot of tender, fragrant, slightly spicy grains (if you want more heat, use up to a tablespoon more curry powder). This recipe would go perfectly with any simply seasoned pot of chickpeas or other beans.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup brown basmati rice
Salt and black pepper
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
1⁄4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 tart apples, cored and chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1⁄4 cup yogurt, optional
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. A minute later, add the curry powder and ginger and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the rice and some salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy and translucent, just a minute or 2.
2. Measure 13⁄4 cups of the coconut milk; stir it into the rice mixture. Bring to a boil, then cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Bake, undisturbed, for 45 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put the shredded coconut in a small skillet over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan and stirring often, until it begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the rice from the oven, uncover, and use a fork to stir in the shredded coconut, apples, and cilantro. Replace the lid and let it rest for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and fluff again. Serve immediately or at room temperature, topped with yogurt if you like.