Fragrant, flavoured, baked rice dishes are a wonderful in several ways. They can be prepared ahead and heated in the oven just before you are ready to eat. They aim to impress. They can use up a lot of leftover bits hanging about in the fridge. And mostly - they are delicious one dish meals.
I have been making this pineapple and rice dish for years now. I first made it as a newly wed, when my husband came home with a very under ripe pineapple that was not quite ready to eat or juice. Using it up in this way, it became a big hit, and I continue to cook this from time to time, when I have some leftover pineapple or under ripe pineapple - or sometimes buying some pineapple just to cook this. My kids love this too - they don't even notice that it is vegetarian.
You can play around with the dried fruits and nuts in the dish, but I like using golden sultanas and Indian almonds as they are widely available here.
I would only make this with fresh pineapple. The fruit needs to be firm, so you can cut it up without crushing the flesh. A slightly under ripe one works wonders.
I make my own spice paste to go with this. But in a pinch, you could use any good shop bought paste that isn't too over powering. I would go with a thai style yellow curry paste.
This recipe could easily be doubled for a large crowd, and would be great to take for a pot luck style event or to serve s part of a buffet.
Layering the cooked rice and the cooked pineapple makes the finished dish look pretty and ensures that everything is evenly distributed.
Spicy Pineapple Rice
For the Yellow Curry Paste
2 medium onions, peeled
8 garlic cloves, peeled
3 inch piece ginger
1 heaped teaspoon coriander seeds
1 heaped teaspoon peppercorns
3 fresh chillies (adjust chillies to suit your palate)
4 stalks lemon grass
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 stick cinnamon
bunch of coriander (use leaves, stalks and roots)
For the rest of the dish
1 cup rice (I use basmati)
1 large pineapple
2 table spoons oil/butter
handful of golden sultanas
handful of nuts (I use Indian almonds)
100ml coconut milk
25g butter, cut into cubes
large pinch of saffron threads
First, make the spice paste by processing all the ingredients together till finely minced. Taste and adjust heat from chillies to suit your palate.
Next, cook the rice in plenty of boiling salted water till almost tender. Drain the rice and spread out on a large plate to dry while you get on with the rest of the dish.
As the rice is cooking, prepare the pineapple. Peel off the outer skin, remove the "eyes" and cut into equal sized dice.
Heat the oil (or use butter if you prefer) and fry the nuts and sultanas till golden. Drain. Into the same oil, add the spice paste and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk and mix well. Add the pineapple and cook for a further minute or two. The sauce should be thick and the fruit should be well coated with the sauce. Turn off the heat.
Coat the bottom and sides of an ovenproof dish with oil/butter. Layer the rice, nuts, sultanas and pineapple, beginning and ending with the rice.
Heat the milk and crumble in the saffron. Let it infuse for a few minutes. Then, sprinkle this on top of the rice, dot with the butter. Cover tightly and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.