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nigella rice, or rice with black bits in it?

Submitted for the acutely silly Recipe Quest: Black and White Food, because your XPs are more important than your vitamins

People not involved

This is one recipe I can safely say has not had the benefit of Alice Waters' involvement. And (if anything) it's "nigella rice", not "Nigella rice", so any Brits in search of their daily nonvitaminous meal can stop sniggering right now.

I ate -- exactly once -- at the café of Alice Waters' restaurant, Chez Panisse. It's (and she's) widely considered the origin of California cuisine. What can I say? The food was great. One dish was accompanied by rice with black bits in it.

Living in the Middle East has some herbal advantages. We quickly worked out that the black bits were the spice named "ketzach" (קצח) in Hebrew. The Internet says it's "nigella" (despite really being called black cumin), so nigella it is. Nigella looks like irregular, small black bits, with straight sides (readers of my other nodes will note that it's a polyhedral spice).

The Recipe

I've no idea how Alice Waters cooks "Rice With Black Bits In It" (I can't even remember what name appeared on the menu), so I decided to make up my own version.

It tastes nothing at all like the real deal, so go to California if you want to see what it's really like. But I like it -- and it's easy to make.


Note: Without nigella, it won't be black and white, it'll just be rice.

Start making rice:

  1. Put rice in pot with tight-fitting lid.
  2. Wash rice (under heavy stream of water) and drain several times, until the water runs somewhat clearer
  3. Fill pot with water, about 2.5cm (1in -- a bit more than the length of the middle joint on your finger, because we want the rice to cook for a little longer than usual) above the level of the rice
  4. Cover pot and bring to a boil on high heat
  5. Uncover pot
  6. Meanwhile, while rice is boiling, put the nigella in a small pan. Add oil and heat, stirring constantly. Stop heating shortly after the nigella starts popping (and splattering all over your kitchen)
  7. When almost all the water has evaporated from the rice pot and small holes can be seen in the rice, mix the contents of the pan into the rice
  8. Cover pot and cook on the lowest heat for 10 minutes
  9. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 10 minutes before serving.

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