Culinary Hotline - 16 March 2022

From biryani and akni, to risotto, paella, arancini, egg fried rice and rice pudding! This week’s Culinary Hotline is all about rice.

Smokey Mussel Paella by Abigail Donnelly


4 red peppers
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
300g leeks, roughly chopped and washed
2 shallots, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
700g risotto rice
½ Cup white wine
3 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp dried chilli flakes
½ Cup saffron, soaked in cup boiling water
1 x 410 g tomato purée can
2 Cups good-quality chicken stock
1 kg Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh mussels, cleaned
2 lemons


Place the red peppers directly over medium coals and turn every few minutes until they are evenly charred.
Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with clingwrap and set aside to steam.
Heat the olive oil in a large paella or cast-iron pan on a braai grid over medium coals.
Add the leeks, shallots and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil and leeks. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the wine and cook for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Stir in the smoked paprika, chilli flakes and saffron (including the soaking liquid), then add the tomato purée and chicken stock. The liquid should just cover the rice – add a little water if necessary. Season and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the mussels, ensuring that most of them are covered by the rice. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mussels open. Discard any that do not open.
Remove the red peppers from the bowl and gently rub off the charred skins. Tear the peppers into the paella and season with extra salt if necessary. Squeeze over the lemon juice.
Cook’s note: Cast iron works beautifully on the braai as it retains heat well.

Prawn Fried Rice by Clement Pedro


For the rice:
1 cup basmati rice
A generous pinch of salt
About 2 cups of water

3 Tbsp canola oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
5cm piece of ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
200g baby corn, cut in half lengthways
140g mange tout
Woolies salad onions, about 6 stalks, roughy sliced (plus extra for garnishing)
500g extra large black tiger prawns, thawed and cleaned
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
fresh coriander, roughly chopped to garnish
crispy onion sprinkle to garnish


For the rice, add your rice to a large bowl and cover it with water, massage the rice gently between you fingers for 30 seconds before pouring of the murky water and rinsing your rice. Add your rice to a pot with the salt and pour in the 2 cups of water, with the water level being about 3cm above the water.
Place your rice on a high heat with the lid on, checking every few minutes until the water begins to boil. At this point reduce your heat to low and continue to cook with the lid on as the rice steams. After 15 minutes your rice should be perfectly cooked and fluffy.
The best fried rice uses rice that was made the day before, but to cool your rice down you can spoon it into a large tray, spreading out the rice which will help it cool quickly.

For the fried rice. Heat the oil over a high heat. Add your garlic, ginger and chilli and wok cook for just a few seconds before adding your corn and mixing through, coating well in the other ingredients. Add the mange tout and spring onions with the prawns and cook until the prawns just begin to turn pink.
Add the rice and stir through combining the ingredients and allowing the rice to fry for a minute before adding the soy and oyster sauce and folding through. Mix through some coriander before serving in bowls. Finish with a garnishing of extra coriander, salad onions and crispy onion sprinkle.