Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Can't Beet the Spice!

Riso & Grani Miste con Barbabietola Rossa & Zucca Speziate
Mixed Rice & Grains with Spicy Beetroot and Pumpkin


Ok, this evening's offering is a little mixed-up and crazy- but then, so am I! Haha! I am as much of a cultural mix myself as this dish was and I just love to combine ingredients from different cultures to make something new and exciting... that for me is what cooking is all about!


I could have made a risotto, I could have made a vegetable curry, I could have made fried rice and I could have decided on whether to make something Italian, Indian, Arabic or Chinese... but what i DID do, turned out to be a combination of all of those options... pretty neat, eh?


My ingredients were a small wedge of Hokkaido pumpkin, 1 beetroot, 1/2 stalk of celery, 1 shallot, 1 chili pepper, about 2" of fresh ginger, a little parsley, 2 cups of a Chinese assortment of mixed rice and grains, a pinch each of fennel and cumin seeds and 2 tablespoons of Oriental "Chorba" spice... oooh!

The result is a chewy, spicy, satisfying and delicious blend of flavors and textures, which is every bit as flavorful as it is colorful!


You can find numerous mixes of grains and rice at your local Asian supermarkets- this one had wild rice, red rice,sticky rice, yellow mung beans and some little white split beans that I can not really identify... but the point is, that the whole fun is in the chewy mix and nutty flavor that they have when they are cooked together!

I cut the pumpkin, celery and beetroot into a relatively small dice, removed the seeds from the chili and cut it into very thin slices and finely chopped the shallot and ginger- and the stalks of the parsley- which you can not see in this pictures, but will know by now that I always like to add to my dishes.


I started the rice-mix boiling first, but then moved swiftly on and started by frying the shallot, celery and chili together with a pinch each of cumin and fennel seeds in a little olive oil.


I then added the pumpkin and beetroot and sweated them down for 5-6 minutes, adding a pinch of salt and pepper to help them develop their full aroma.


After around 15 minutes of boiling, the rice was ready to be added, along with any residual water that may still be in the rice-cooker/saucepan.


Stir the rice in and add 2 tablespoons of Chorba spice, or alternatively a mild curry. There are many variations of Chorba available, but usually the predominant spice is Turmeric and they are typically more aromatic than "hot", being a blend of coriander, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, turmeric and maybe one or two other spices. You can find these easily at Ethnic supermarkets also. Add a little finely chopped parsley, stir through and continue steaming in your frying pan, with the lid on, for a further 10 minutes on a low flame.


You can add a sprinkle of chopped parsley as a garnish if you wish, to liven up the deep red color that everything takes-on, thanks to that wonderful beetroot... or leave the leaves whole as i did, as the mild, fresh flavor is a nice contrast to my mind... but then I am Sicilian and we love parsley as an ingredient and not only a garnish- it is a wildly underestimated ingredient if you ask me! You just need to know how to use it... and to actually eat it, rather than setting it to the edge of your plate to be thrown away afterwards! We'll have none of that at MY table, thank you very much!  

Plenty of spice is what makes this nice! But at the same time, the sweetness of both the beetroot and the pumpkin make it mild and enjoyable- so please go ahead and DO enjoy!


  1. So happy to see you up and posting again! :) Great photos, innovative recipes, and clear instructions each and every time, you really spoil your readers. I believe the white seed that you were unable to identify is Job's Tear aka Coix seed.

  2. Thank you Steph! I have to admit, I have never heard of those seeds- well, you lives and you learns! Glad you are enjoying my little recipes and thanks for following! Best wishes, Francesco :-)