Mushroom and garlic fried rice with basil-parsley pesto

Okay, first and foremost this is something totally out of the back of my head. I had some mushrooms and just had to cook them before they turned bad. The pesto was an all-or-nothing experiment. Thankfully, everything worked to combine these incredible flavours into a dish that I did not think was possible to begin with. Yes, it may look like I am beating my own drum, but good food deserves a good audience!

There are three stages with this recipe – preparing the rice, making the pesto and then combing everything with the mushrooms. The recipe is sufficient for two people or one person who can eat a lot.

For the rice:

Ingredients –

  • Three-fourth of a cup of basmati rice
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 and a half cups of water

Method –

  • Rinse the rice off its starch properly. I wash it about three times, before running it under cold water for half a minute.
  • Empty the starchy water out and add the rice to a pressure cooker with the water.
  • Crush the cardamom pods with the flat side of your knife to expose the inside. That way the rice will absorb all the flavour while cooking. You can also add a cinnamon stick, some mace or cloves. Anything you like.
  • Put the cooker on high heat till the first whistle then lower the heat to a low medium and whistle for three more times. Let the steam subside by itself. The residual heat will cook through any grains that may be a touch undercooked.

For the pesto:

Now while the rice is cooking, prepare you pesto sauce. This is a real easy one and I did not add any nuts, well because you don’t get pine nuts that often here and I don’t like them.

Ingredients –

  • One cup basil leaves tightly packed
  • One cup parsley tightly packed
  • Half a cup of cheese (use any cheese but parmesan and cheddar go well with this)
  • Three garlic cloves (I used rather large ones. For smaller cloves add about four to five)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Half a cup of Olive Oil
  • Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon (a little more if you like it tangy)

Method –

  • Add the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a blender and blitz.
  • Now add the cheese and olive oil and blend till you get a somewhat smooth consistency. It should not turn into a puree.
  • Taste to check the seasoning. Add some more if required. Balance it with some more olive oil and lemon juice if looks a little dry.
  • Transfer in an air-tight glass jar and use it within a week. The pesto will go well with absolutely anything. Use it to marinate chicken, in sandwiches and burgers, in pastas or just as a casual dip.

For the fried rice:

Ingredients –

  • Rice cooked from earlier
  • One small capsicum – finely chopped
  • One medium to small carrot – finely chopped
  • One medium onion – finely sliced
  • Two cloves of garlic – sliced
  • Curry leaves – five to six
  • Green chillies – two, finely chopped
  • Button mushrooms – 150-200 grams, cleaned, peeled and chopped
  • Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Curry powder – half teaspoon
  • Cumin powder – half teaspoon
  • Garlic powder – half teaspoon (optional, you can also use garlic-ginger powder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sunflower oil – 1 and half tablespoon
  • Soy sauce – 1 tablespoon
  • Worcestershire sauce – 1 teaspoon (optional, skip if you want it pure vegetarian)
  • Balsamic vinegar – 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • Parsley to garnish

Method –

  • In a large wok or non-stick pan heat the oil on high. Add the curry leaves and let them splutter and then add the garlic and chillies and fry till it releases its aroma. Then add the onions and sauté till they turn a light brown at the edges.
  • Now add the capsicum and carrot with a pinch of salt so that the capsicum releases it water. We want a sort of dry-ish base to fry the rice.
  • Keep stirring so that they vegetables don’t burn. Remember you are cooking on high heat.
  • After about five minutes, add the mushrooms with some garlic powder if you have any. Toss it around well in the pan and let it whither down and release the water. Keep an eye and stirring every now and then.
  • Once there is enough water from the mushrooms in the pan, turn the heat down and add all the powdered spices. Be careful with your salt and remember to taste once you have added your rice.
  • Stir the spices to coat the mushrooms and then add the rice cooked earlier. It would have dried out well by now and you can add it directly to the pan.
  • Stir well and turn the heat up slightly. Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. You will see that this will colour the rice to a light brown and that is exactly what you are looking for.
  • Stir for another five minutes on a medium heat till the rice looks a little dry. Transfer on to the plates and serve along with the pesto.
  • I stirred in one big tablespoon of the pesto directly in the pan right at the end and cooked the rice on for another minute on high heat to finish.

This is a delightful little dish. There is no limit to the amount of pesto to add to the rice, just the amount of garlic you can stand before you need a mouthwash. (Hehe!)

You could do so much with this dish. Make it non-veg by adding some barbeque or left over chicken. You could scramble an egg and add it at the end. Another way I really enjoy this is by transferring it to a baking dish, adding a good helping of cheddar cheese and baking it for 10 minutes at a 180 degrees Celsius. Oh, it’s good. Trust me!

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