Moroccan Rice Pilaf with Eggplant

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Delicious as; highly pleasant to the taste.

I think that sums up exactly what this dish is…
I was inspired by a dish I had at Moroccan Soup Bar in Melbourne back in May, which I then had again in August. I scoured the internet for hours trying to find a recipe that matched what I had, but alas I found nothing slightly the same. So as any sane person would do; I experimented.
The fruits of my labour were highly pleasant to the taste and that’s why I’m sharing with you now.

I’ll share some pictures of the meal I had in August at MSB for nostalgia’s sake:

Pickled Vegetables, assorted dips (best babaghanoush) and flat bread.

Pickled Vegetables, assorted dips (best babaghanoush) and flat bread.

(Right to left) White plate top: Rice Pilaf with Eggplant - this is the one! yoghurt, saffron rice, lentil stew. Bottom left: Their famous Chickpea Bake aka Fetteh. Top left: Vegetable tagine with couscous.

(Right to left) White plate top: Rice Pilaf with Eggplant – this is the one! yoghurt, saffron rice, lentil stew. Bottom left: Their famous Chickpea Bake aka Fetteh. Top left: Vegetable tagine with couscous.

Finish Him! Me polishing off the Fetteh, I was so full, but I couldn't waste a crumb!

Finish Him! Me polishing off the Fetteh, I was so full, but I couldn’t waste a crumb!

Ahh… this takes me back! I love Melbourne so much, no wonder it got voted one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Anyway, I experimented and came up with a pretty good version (if I do so say myself) of the dish I had at MSB.

Ingredients:
(serves 4, but great as a side dish)

a few tablespoons of Rice Bran Oil
a couple tablespoons of Ghee
1 large Eggplant, sliced thickly (approx 1.5cm) into rounds and salted
1 medium Onion, diced finely
2-3 cloves of Garlic, diced finely
4 leaves/fronds of Kale (this wasn’t in MSB’s version, but it makes it healthier), chopped roughly
2 cups of Basmati Rice
1 tablespoon of medium heat Ras al Hanout spice blend (I used a local one by Spice Palace, the spice mixes are made in Byron Bay… my roomie got it  from the Bangalow Markets)
1 teaspoon of Sumac
1 teaspoon of Tumeric (for the colour and health benefits)
half a tablespoon of Tomato Paste
a handful of Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 large Mother Of All Herb leaf, sliced finely
a few sprigs of fresh Thyme, leaves removed from stems
4 cups of Vegetable stock (I use Massel)
Salt and Pepper
half a cup of Slivered Almonds
Yoghurt to serve (I use Jalna biodynamic, full cream – so delicious!)

Method:

Heat a tablespoon of ghee and a tablespoon of rice bran oil in a deep fry pan (one with a lid please). Add onions & kale and cook on a low heat allowing onion to soften and turn translucent.
Add the tomatoes and cook stirring occasionally, ensuring the onion doesn’t brown too much.
Add the spices, tomato paste, garlic, and a good grinding of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and heat through the spices. If it appears a bit dry, add a little more ghee or oil. The reason I encourage the oil/ghee is because this dish has a really unctuous feel/taste about it and I think it makes the dish. 
Add the rice and stir to coat with all of the flavours. Now add the vege stock and herbs, stir.
Put the lid on and place on a low heat, allowing to cook undisturbed for about half an hour or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender.
While the rice is cooking you can get onto cooking the eggplant. Rinse the salt from your eggplant, pat dry.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in the fry pan and add as many slices as you can fit comfortably, you will probably have to do this in batches. Quickly turn the eggplant so that it doesn’t soak up all the oil on one side (you want it evenly coated with oil – if you wish you could brush it with oil, I couldn’t be bothered).
Cook the eggplant on a low-medium heat to allow it to cook through and soften with delicious caramelisation.
Add oil/ghee to the pan between batches as needed.
When you’re just about done cooking the last batch of eggplant, push the eggplant to one side of the fry pan, add a little ghee to the side without eggplant and add your slivered almonds, toss them ensuring the don’t burn, but are nicely toasted. Quickly remove them from the pan and set to the side.
For a more smokey flavour try cooking the eggplant on a BBQ.
Assemble your dish by placing rice on the bottom, eggplant on top of that, a sprinkling of almonds and some yoghurt on the side.

Enjoy!

I tried to upload a picture of what I made last night, but for some reason iPhoto isn’t cooperating and all I’m getting is a grey square :/ sorry…

– Cass xo –

Kudos – I got some inspiration for this post from:
http://www.food.com/recipe/moroccan-rice-pilaf-with-saffron-414811
http://www.moroccansoupbar.mobi
http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/1222357676/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s