Every January, I am overcome with a profound hankering for vegetables. It’s the rich meats and a steady supply of chocolate over the preceding feast days that has me craving the greener side of the plate. Even Hungry Hubby doesn’t bat an eyelid at the lack of chicken in his dinner!
Meat-free meals feature heavily on our lunch and dinner menus at this time of year but they are always highly flavoured so no one feels like they are missing out of taste in pursuit of more virtuous and moderate dietary ways. Basmati rice is my most favourite of rises – from it’s warm, floral scent to the long fluffy grains when cooked.
It’s just wonderful simply cooked to serve alongside curries or chilli of course but if you add just a few store cupboard and freezer ingredients, you’ve got a complete meal in a bowl. My Instant Pot Cajun Vegetable Rice is made in a jiffy and its intense savouriness will keep you satisfied for ages.
This simple little bowlful of goodness is everything I want to eat right now. Chilli powder, smoked paprika and cumin give it earthy, smoky heat whilst a little dried thyme and oregano convince you this rice is Cajun, not curry! White Basmati cooks in a mere 4 minutes in the Instant Pot, a fact which has seen me turn my back on the brown basmati we have been happily eating for years (which is not so virtuous but go easy on me – it’s only the first week in January!) so this is fast enough make for lunch.
It is, however, great as a side dish for some roast chicken for a more substantial meal. As there is hardly any evaporation in the IP you don’t need as much water as you would cooking the rice on the stove plus the addition of frozen vegetables bring their own moisture. I know it’s not particularly sexy to be using bags of frozen peas, sweetcorn, green beans and sliced peppers but can I tell you, when a meal is this convenient and, most importantly, this delicious then you shouldn’t worry yourself about such things.
This vegetable rice is a real sensory pleasure to eat what with its fragrant aroma and exciting mix of flavours. Happy New Year everyone!
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Half an onion finely diced
- 1 cup white basmati rice washed in a sieve with cold running water
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp chilli powder adjust to preferred level of spiciness
- 1/3 tsp dried thyme
- 1/3 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1½ heaped cups of frozen vegetables*
- 2 tbsp tomato purée dissolved in 1 cup just boiled water 250ml
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- A squeeze of lime
- A tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Set the Instant Pot to Sauté and add the oil followed by the diced onions. Cook for as long as you can bare to wait - at least until they are softened and browning around the edges to bump up the flavour.
Stir in the rice and all the spices, mixing until very well combined. Add your choice of frozen vegetables and the water with the tomato purée dissolved in.
Hit cancel, place the lid on, set the vent to Sealing and press Manual. Set to 4 minutes and get your bowl ready!
Do a Quick Pressure Release and fluff the rice up with a fork before seasoning well with salt and cracked black pepper, a squeeze of lime juice and as much chopped fresh coriander as you like. Leave out the coriander if you prefer but definitely season and spritz with lime before serving straight away.
*= stick with small frozen veg like peas, sweetcorn, chopped green beans, shelled edamame (soya beans), chopped peppers and onions. Large pieces of broccoli and cauliflower are too chunky to cook through in the time.
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